Doug Bruns

A Fashion of Discomfort

In Memoir, The Examined Life on March 1, 2013 at 6:00 am

I read in the blogosphere of a writer celebrating five years turning the wheel of his effort. With a few caveats, he comments that he is comfortable toiling in obscurity. I commend him. I am not, honestly, comfortable doing anything in obscurity. I simply harbor too much hunger, which is not necessarily a good thing. I wonder if this blogger truly is so comfortable or rather is attempting to convince himself of a comfort? Obscurity seems such a very cold corner of the universe.

I try to write a few days ahead of a post, always leap-frogging forward. This affords me a bit of space to revise and brush up my prose before hitting the Publish button. That is not the case today. Today I am up against it, having squandered my wiggle room with false starts, bringing me a tad closer to despair.  Maybe if obscurity were less intimidating I would be more comfortable in this situation. But then, upon reflection, I know that being comfortable is too often a trap.

Most of what I have grown to value in my experience was born in some fashion of discomfort. This holds true of the physical certainly, the mountains climbed, trails hiked, horizons pursued. Intellectually, it remains more challenging. There is nothing seemingly so quick to obstruction as the neural pathways. Those synaptic gaps require constant bridge building. If the universe lurches to complexity, as we’ve discussed, then the mind in its quality seems to move contrary-wise, inching a smidgen closer to the simple with each hour, a nudge toward obscurity. This is a rising tide against which we cannot afford a breaking levee. Toil on we must.

I used to play the classical guitar and every evening I would take my instrument and my sheet music and practice–in obscurity, I assumed. My goals were modest. I didn’t wish to play in public, nor aspired to anything but self-satisfaction. There seems a desperate purity to that, I think. Years later I learned that my young children came to count on falling asleep to their father’s music making. There is nothing desperate or obscure about that. Indeed, obscurity might be harder to come by than we imagine.

Most of the time we function under the impression of a self-possessed singularity, blind to the overlaps and connections in which we truly exist. A fellow blogger writes of obscurity; then I pick the theme up and now, here, you read my reflections on the subject; and quite easily we come to understand the reaching nature of each effort and expression and gesture. I might go so far as to suggest that obscurity, in the web of totality, is simply a false concept. This thought charges me with responsibility and a modicum of comfort.

Thanks for reading. You refute the premise of obscurity. Have a terrific weekend.

d

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