I don't typically freeze in the face of a blank page or screen—which is, I guess, the privilege of someone doesn't have to write to pay the bills, or even write to anyone but himself. But Wednesdays cut the top off my head and scoop me out like a jack-o-lantern pumpkin, leaving a spongy, useless shell. When it's over I sit down and look at this blank white page and mutter, "so what do you want?"
The page never answers. That's how you know it's in charge.
I take classes on Tuesday and Wednesday evening this spring semester (although, mercifully, only for the first half semester on Wednesday). Ostensibly, I have been packing things into my head in class in the evening, and in the morning when I'm reading the papers and articles for class, and the free time around lunch and dinner when I'm scrambling to finish some assignment. That's the story I want to believe—right up until I sit down, tip my head over, and only a few tufts of lint fall out.
It reminds of something—that moment in an endurance race, maybe two-thirds of the way in. Hours in, hours to go, and the crew inside your head has begun to mutiny. What do you think about during the best races? Nothing—a mind as clean as a blank sheet of paper. What do you think about during the worst races? Everything.
The blank page as the thing we want, and thing we don't want.
Busyness as penance, and busyness as paradise, and busyness as perdition.
Gaze into the abyss and.