I keep writing.
There are so many mornings like this, when the ideas just aren’t there. I try my old trick of listing the things that are on my desk, or, in this case, the snack table that serves at my desk when I stay with Megan for the weekend.
Let’s see. There’s a receipt from the One Stop where I bought a pack of cigarettes three days ago. There’s an ashtray with one cigarette in it. There’s a bunch of stickers for the small wireless computer mouse that has all these doodles on it. There’s a lighter. There’s an empty glass. There’s a pack of cigarettes with three of them left.
I’ve set tomorrow as my quit day. This means that when I continue to blog, I will have to chronicle whether or not I’ve kept to this pledge. The whole world will know whether I am indeed keeping away from cigarettes.
This sets a pretty high bar for this, so I guess I have to rise to the occasion.
There are two empty Diet Coke bottles next to me. I often buy a two liter bottle, and fill these smaller bottles so that I have something I can take with me. I also just like the way that Diet Coke and Caffeine Free Diet Coke taste from a 20 ounce bottle. My father prefers cans.
My father and I bonded over Diet Coke, the same way I used to bond over coffee with my mother. When I was a kid and my dad used to take me to the office with him every so often, we’d always stop at a deli and buy Diet Coke and a buttered roll. There was something wonderful about talking to my dad, munching on my roll and drinking my Diet Coke (actually, it was Tab until the 1980s), driving along the Hutchinson River Parkway on the way to my father’s office in White Plains.
This isn’t a solid idea for something to write about, but it may be. When I write in the morning, I’m reminded of a class I took in Science Reference work when I was studying to be a school librarian. In the class, the professor talked about the difference between applied science research and pure science research.
Applied science research, he said, was research designed with a specific end in mind. This is the research in which the researcher is looking to put the research to direct use, be it for medicine, engineering, or any other of the myriad disciplines that can benefit from someone finding a different way to do something.
Pure science, on the other hand, is research just for the sake of doing research. It often doesn’t seem to have much use at all, except that at the end of it, the researcher has discovered something.
Yet pure scientific discoveries often, years after they happen, result in someone finding a use for them. That discovery about the properties of, say, microscopic algae may very well lead to some practical use somewhere down the line.
I often feel as if the musings that I write in the morning are the equivalent of pure science. Memories and fragments of ideas come to me, and I set them down, wondering if they will lead to something. Many times they don’t, but sometimes they do.
Ray Bradbury said that the experiences we have in our lives are kind of the equivalent of pure scientific research. When he lived in Ireland for a time while working on the film “Moby Dick,” he hated it. He found Ireland damp and dank, and wondered how there could be anything that could come of such an unpleasant experience.
Yet his experiences lay there in his mind, and one day, as he thought back to an odd memory of his time in Ireland. He remembered the odd habit of Irish movie goers to sprint for the movie theater exits right as the national anthem started to play at the conclusion of a film (a custom in Irish movie houses at the time), and he started to write about that memory.
The result was “The Anthem Sprinters,” and when writing about how this story came to be, Bradbury mentioned other instances of his life in which he was sure nothing would come of that time. Again and again, those experiences would result in a story.
So it is when I type these words. Mentioning that receipt from One Stop may seem to have absolutely no purpose at the moment, but there’s always the possibility that it will mean something later on.
So I put down these words, many of which seem, at the time, to have no use whatsoever. I have faith that some day, in the future, a story or essay idea will come. Even on days where the idea well seems to be barren, I write down the moments of my mornings, and often, upon reflection, something comes of it.
I keep writing.