Last night I felt that familiar chill–the autumn is approaching. Just knowing it from the calendar doesn’t feel real. One has to sense it. However the grass is as green as ever, the leaves as abundant as the summer time. The heat and the humidity during the day are still there, but one feels the gradual creeping up of the coolness, the crispy air, the slower heating up during the morning, and the quicker drop of temperature at dusk. One knows the change is coming, not only in the air. I somehow feel that this summer has been longer than usual, probably because of the pandemic, which shut down everything and makes our invisible bodily clock tick slower. Probably I’ve read the news more often and searched online for more sources of Asian news–things are happening but one wants to know more and one can’t wait to know what’s going to happen next. Such an impatience adds several hours to a day and almost justifies one’s irrational sentiment that the time is too slow and the progress is disappointing.
That brings me to the paradox we can’t seem to escape–we can’t function without a routine, but our habits seem to imprison us. Writing, of all things, is more difficult to deal with than other work. If one implements a strict discipline of schedule, one feels like losing spontaneity. The desire to fit in with the rigid timetable brings anxiety, which is something desirable for other work since it gets things done and makes one feel accomplished afterwards. Trying it on your writing, it’s a disaster. Things are done but not done to your liking. The rush and the anxiety inexplicably show up between the lines and among the phrases you have placed with deliberation. How could this happen? I don’t know. Now the alternative is equally troublesome. If one takes a relaxed attitude, things are not going to be done. Period. There’s a devil in my mind, or is it an angel. Whatever it is, I haven’t learned how to deal with it.
I can always blame the language. Not being a native speaker of English is the most convenient defense of mine, a panacea for all my language ills, a scapegoats for all wrongs–grammar mistakes, awkward phrases, un-smoothed transitions. I have to say English is rather slippery and unruly, towards me at least. I often imagine something utterly beautiful and witty and irresistible, but when it’s finally written black and white in front of me, it is ugly and has to be resisted at all cost. As for the witty part, it feels like somebody trying to be witty, but failing miserably. If anybody laughs, it will be a sympathy laugh.