The Terrible Blinking Cursor

The writer’s affliction is a mute paralysis, a rebellion of the mind to form a thought, of the hands to flow those thoughts onto the empty page.

This, of course, will have to end–preferrably on the plane home tomorrow. I’ve put off writing toward the Floyd Press deadline (Monday noon) and others as well because I made two mis-assumptions: 1) that there would be plenty of time to work in an hour to pull threads together, and 2) that there would be threads to pull together. So I sit here watching the vertical line blinking with a vast whiteness to it’s right and below as far as the eye can see, and wonder what might appear there between now and Monday noon.

My thoughts, honestly, are not what comes next at the cursor. I stare out my 9th floor window onto the roofs of Madison’s downtown and wonder what ever will happen on what appears to be the most miserable of days for the 350 action back in Floyd County in a few hours. There is a volume of rain, a force of wind and an impenetrability of fog beyond which it will just not be feasible to attempt to get “the” photograph we had imagined. What a misery, what a seeming waste of so much planning and thought and good intentions. And yet, we’ll turn it for good, somehow. Sorry, good people, I couldn’t be there to possibility-think and consider positive options.

I look at the terrible white page and cannot focus, wondering what is happening in the lives of Henry and his parents, knowing the fog through which their vision must penetrate, straining to see with any clarity what comes next, some destination, and how with good spirits and purpose to reach it.

Breakfast in 15 minutes, and I have just decided I’ll miss the first session this morning. Maybe I’ll take a walk instead, my spirit and orthopedic self more in need than my mind/brain.

For those few who might be curious about the conference, read Marc Gunther’s piece about yesterday’s activity, What’s Wrong with Obama’s Green Team. Twitter folks, follow #SEJ and #SEJ09 for updates through the day.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I’m sorry you’re having a rough time with things. I can’t imagine trying to focus and be productive when all you want to do is be with them. I wish there was something I could say to make it easier for you all.

  2. Thanks Carrie, I sat out the first session this morning and found some flow and have 600 words towards 800 or so for the deadline, so feel like I’ve done something and found my voice and rhythm in some small way–writing about Aldo Leopold, as I will be visiting his beloved home place later today and stand in the spirit of his writing muse. Ah, the wonderful-terrible human experience.

  3. Glad to read the walk around Madison did some good and that you got 600 of your 800 words down on paper! I read your link about the conference and it is encouraging to read that Gore believes the Republicans are getting ready to get on board climate change legislation. As you said, the wonderful-terrible human experience.

  4. That was an interesting piece by Marc Gunther. Thanks for the link. I think the key to the whole mess is the point made by Gore at the end of Marc’s essay:

    “The political system of the U.S. and the world share one thing in common with the climate system–both are nonlinear. The potential for change can build up without noticeable effect until that potential reaches a critical mass capable of breaking through whatever barrier has been holding us back.

    “We’re very close to a political tipping point.”

    That tipping point may well come in the next year, as the economy continues to deteriorate and the elite is forced to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan by an angry, unemployed mob of workers here in this country. Think Tea Parties times 10.