The days of our lives seem like so many nickels and dimes that have been hitting the coin tray now for a very long time. Some moments of great value are in there, of course, but many are spent cheaply in mindless pursuits: watching television, working puzzles, picking our noses, parsing our memories. Many days spent just killing time as light turned to darkness, shuffling off to bed and rolling in fitful dreams toward the dim light of morning where we hit the reset button, cue the band, and start the same song all over again.

While we are sitting here watching TV, or paying attention to this or that, or getting caught up this drama or that, outside the days and nights are slowly passing us by — ceaselessly, never pausing or waiting for us to catch up, not caring if we are watching or paying attention or doing things according to schedule or a plan — just keep marching like clockwork, smoothly and endlessly towards that last moment when we will be out of time.

I am cursed by the belief that my greatest talent is to write. I have been fairly successful at nurturing this skill throughout my life, although usually not in the ways that I wanted. I have been paid — quite handsomely, most of my life — to write things for others. But there is this other writing that I have always wanted to do, for myself, as a way to explain myself, to myself, and to the world perhaps.

Like most people, my mind is in constant overdrive. I am thinking about things all the time: reading, pondering, analyzing the external world constantly inside my head. Sometimes, the thoughts that flash by seem brilliant to me: true insights about the world. But, like all thoughts, they are fleeting and not easily recollected. Each of them is like a butterfly, which you see for a moment, but then it flitters away, soon to be forgotten. The brilliance of a thought, at the moment it emerges, cannot be captured permanently unless you write it down. Without writing it down, the thought is useless and whatever brilliance it might have had is all for naught. Once you write it down, sometimes it is not as brilliant as it seemed. The butterfly loses its color and becomes a flat gray moth, pinned lifelessly to the paper.

I’ve always had a desire to capture and examine all these thoughts running around inside my head, the way you might empty your pockets and rummage through the contents, to see if there is something there that you, or someone else, might find interesting and worth examining at greater length — something that might be cleaned up a bit, polished, and placed on the window sill to catch the light. Even perhaps something that might be shared with others for their own edification: something that might have enough value to provoke thought in others, to offer new insights on the human condition, and even perhaps to improve the condition of humanity and the world. Not that I am so brilliant — we all have these thoughts — but the people who are really brilliant are the ones who have been able to capture their thoughts on paper, refine them, and express the result in a way that inspired others.

This is why it’s all worth it — this struggle to bring fleeting thoughts to life. Because someday, something might come of it. Even if none of it ever does. It’s the highest value way that we can spend our time, mining the mind for nuggets of wisdom and flashes of insight, sharing our experiences and knowledge through essays, poems, fiction or nonfiction. That’s what all great writers do, and it’s only sheer persistence that makes them successful.

So I go forth, into this new medium, trying to spill my guts in a graceful sort of way. A sincere thanks, if you have followed me this far. Let’s see what tomorrow brings…

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Writer of odds and ends

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Geoffrey Kearns

Geoffrey Kearns

Writer of odds and ends

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