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If you think about it, this writing, or any art form whatsoever, is no substitute for present-time experience.  After all, one could sit and read about every city in the world and never actually leave the comforts and safety of home.  These words, they’re just symbols.  I put them on the page for you to read, to take-in, to process.  But you’ll never know what I really meant.  You can’t.

My first writing mentor told me, “Zack, you wanna be a great writer?  Don’t think about writing, just go live.”  And that’s what I try to do.  I ask myself, When things change, will you be open to it?  How will you greet doubt?  Will you know the difference between doubt that is harmful and skepticism that is skillful?  How will you tell?  Always examine your intention.  Not just short term, but long term.  But make mistakes.  Forget.  And when you do, smile and remember that you’re breathing.  Balance.  Smooth.  Simple.  Joyful.  Light.  Playful.  Informed but open.  Tenacious but gentle.  Firm but malleable.  Dynamic.  Explore with arms wide open.  Let the water run over your feet.  Get dirty.  Make music.  Listen.  You are not going to figure it all out.  Rest in that.  Moment by moment, like a ball of yarn, time unravels its speckled gold hair.

There comes a point in your life when you realize that what your parents taught you was important may not be…. When you realize what a product of your conditioning you are.  That moment of existential angst is an important one, where one decides to live blindly or to engage life’s uncertainties, to explore possibilities, to open-up.  Art allows this process to happen.

Someone asked me the other day why I write.  I didn’t have an answer.  What I wanted to say was, “I have to.”  But that seems so rehearsed, like the tortured artist who is the victim of his own creativity.  Nah.  But I do wish I knew why I ended up in front of the computer, or with a pad and a pen.  I think it’s about art, about finding beauty in the mundane, about finding meaning in a transient and changing world.  Maybe it makes things easier.  I don’t know.

Maybe this is my playground.  I get to make the rules here.  I can give my writing rhythm.  I can make my writing scholarly.  I can make it angry and hard, or gentle and soft.  But mostly, I think it’s a place where I can let go into the moment and allow myself to be vulnerable with my own thoughts and my own creativity.  It’s a trustful act, this writing.  But it’s just symbols.  It’s not real.

So why would anyone do art?  What is art?

It’s the sound trees make in the morning when the wind blows,

it’s the frosty moonlight creeping in through the window.

It’s the guy on the corner, dirty clothes and scraggly hair,

it’s all the fucked up shit in life that no doubt got him there.

It’s the love I feel for life that communicates through a shiver,

it’s breathing deep, it’s a good night’s sleep, it’s the freezing Big Sur river.

It’s all the times you tell yourself you swear you’ll never do that again,

then the next day comes, you do the same thing and swear it all over again.

It’s the color of my love’s eyes when we’re lost in a gaze,

She asks me why I love her, and I sit back and count the ways.

It’s the waves crashing down on the California coast,

it’s dangling my feet off a cliff while you tell me I’m too close.

It’s my boys, it’s the laughter, it’s the jokes for the days after.

It’s my poetry, these lines I write, this beautiful life I try to capture.

It’s going outside at sunrise for inspiration,

bringing my pad and pen with me, just sitting there, patient.

But here I am.  I’m still right here.  The same young poet with the same old fears.

I used to wear my scars like a medal on my chest.

Now I sit with legs crossed on a cushion and feel blessed.

There is no answer to the question, “Why do I write?”  The answer is an action.  It’s putting one foot in front of the other.  It’s a smile and a laugh.  It’s a fleeting feeling.  Here and then gone.

Moment.  By.  Moment.

Like a ball of yarn,

time unravels

its speckled

gold

hair.

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4 Comments

  1. “smile and remember that you’re breathing.” I really love this! Thank you for sharing! You have a beautiful writing style. 🙂

  2. It’s crazy that your writing gives me shivers faster than when I read Locke or Hesse! I think it is the profundity of your insight into “self,” and the affirmation in your statements. They don’t question, they are written as if they are concrete facts. I appreciate the strength of the statements juxtaposed to the relatively artistic structure. It breaks the stereotypical idea that artists are soft, and that strong manly writing needs a strong rigid structure like Hemingway. Thanks Zack!

  3. You continue to amaze me xox

  4. So You Want To Be a Writer (By Charles Bukowski)

    if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
    in spite of everything,
    don’t do it.
    unless it comes unasked out of your
    heart and your mind and your mouth
    and your gut,
    don’t do it.
    if you have to sit for hours
    staring at your computer screen
    or hunched over your
    typewriter
    searching for words,
    don’t do it.
    if you’re doing it for money or
    fame,
    don’t do it.
    if you’re doing it because you want
    women in your bed,
    don’t do it.
    if you have to sit there and
    rewrite it again and again,
    don’t do it.
    if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
    don’t do it.
    if you’re trying to write like somebody
    else,
    forget about it.
    if you have to wait for it to roar out of
    you,
    then wait patiently.
    if it never does roar out of you,
    do something else.

    if you first have to read it to your wife
    or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
    or your parents or to anybody at all,
    you’re not ready.

    don’t be like so many writers,
    don’t be like so many thousands of
    people who call themselves writers,
    don’t be dull and boring and
    pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
    love.
    the libraries of the world have
    yawned themselves to
    sleep
    over your kind.
    don’t add to that.
    don’t do it.
    unless it comes out of
    your soul like a rocket,
    unless being still would
    drive you to madness or
    suicide or murder,
    don’t do it.
    unless the sun inside you is
    burning your gut,
    don’t do it.

    when it is truly time,
    and if you have been chosen,
    it will do it by
    itself and it will keep on doing it
    until you die or it dies in you.

    there is no other way.

    and there never was.


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