Kids, it’s been a manic day in Highland Park. Say what you will about the downside of being a manic depressive or bipolar or whatever the trendy new pharmaceutical term for my outlook on the world is, but the upside is GREAT. Always has been, always will be. I don’t have reason to be happy, per se, and I’m not exactly, but I am being productive. Which may be the next-best thing.
Without manic moods, I’m not sure I’d ever get through the mundane drudgery aspects of life – the bare levels of life maintenance whose very existence in a thoughtful, creative life seems to stymie every possible inspiration and outlet for hope. How can we feel good about the potentiality of life’s higher echelons when so much of it is spent running errands or eating or sleeping or cleaning oneself or one’s living quarters? It becomes debilitating quite quickly. But manic moods seem to pave it all over, to flush away the feeling of incumbent drudgery with a hyper-enthusiasm for life and doing and going and being that one would want to infuse in all of life and its aspects. Suddenly, there’s a relentless energy for everything, whatever it may entail, and the to-do list dries up and crinkles and disintegrates in the wind of such adrenaline.
Here’s another thing that’s helped keep me organized, perhaps the best life development of 2009, now a three-year tradition for my office area wall:
You wouldn’t think that looking at twelve months at a time instead of one would do that much for one’s perception of time in its passage, but boy does it do wonders for me. I could probably write a two-thousand word treatise on why this particular vantage on time is so powerful and important for me (especially today!), but I’ll try to summarize briefly instead. Being able to see 365 days at a time really emphasizes the importance and the rarity of each one. One can wave away a month all the time, and one often does, thinking I only have to get through this or that or over that hurdle and a month can be explained away as nothing. But no one is so jaded, cynical, and resigned to do the same for a year. A year is the benchmark of an amount of time that, by its nature, is a Very Big Deal. And looking at the whole year in a snap is a little like looking at the Grand Canyon. One can’t help but be overwhelmed by its stature, its enormity, the vast complexity of its details.
And yet one adjusts – one sees the Grand Canyon as a whole, sees its details as composite parts of something larger, greater, and more important than oneself. Similarly, one’s eyes gradually adjust to the year at a time, to each block of it being something vital to carve importance and meaning out of. One can put the feeling of a day and its length and rhythm in the context of hundreds like it. One can feel a month not as an isolated frame whose edgy abyss can be peered over but never really seen, but as a passage of days surrounded by other days, making planning across months more seamless and fluid. One can also grapple with the finitude of life itself, that one (in this case, I) has (have) only yet been offered thirty of these little wall hangings in which to decorate the whole of a life to date. That eighty (fifty more) would be generous – that but one or only half of this is possible. And thus there is urgency to coloring the days with matters of importance, with good expenditures of time, with investments whose memory will bear reflection and not merely yield to sighs and excuses and shrugs. This is the call to arms of most of my days and perspectives these days (and for some time in the past, if you look through this record), but especially is enhanced by the hanging of all 365 24-hour sets in a row on the wall.
I highly recommend it for your own wall. I also recommend being able to go through an entire grocery shopping visit without crying once, an accomplishment I notched for the first time in six months today. I think I was too distracted by manic focus to think about the larger implications of anything. I have that grandiose sense that I could knock down a menacing statue with a single cross-eyed glare, the feeling that I could actually lift a car over my head and chuck it across the street. Keep your drugs and substances – I experience all the highs and lows I need quite naturally. And no, folks, I’m not actually going to attempt any vehicle-flinging. Not today.
In any case, the high-energy Wednesday has also finally established the deadline of my fourth novel, dubbed Project X as discussed earlier, which will be Sunday, the fifteenth day of May. Given that it’s likely I’ll vacate Jersey on June 1 (or possibly July 1), this will give me a reasonable timeframe to focus on the novel, blending my other duties here and a vague urgency with a slightly more lenient pace (nearly four full months instead of three!) to account for my current emotional bearings. It’ll be a challenging project, to say the least, and is almost certain to be either my most or least commercially viable venture. Which it is will have to be determined by many things impossible to predict at this juncture. But it’s exciting to have a deadline in life – it’s safe to say that pretty much all my best days have come when I have a deadline ahead of me.
Anyone who isn’t manic depressive should really try it. Seriously. I don’t know how you all get by without feeling this way sometimes.