writing unwriting

Thoreau’s words “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live” stamped themselves into my memory instantly. It was a one-read-memorizer.

Until now, these bold words have implored and checked me in alternating fashion. What a call to live! What intimidating writing advice…

Eventually one has to say to hell with Thoreau and write what one wants. Insecurities are hard to hush when they hide behind the guise of old gods and giants.

Still, his words float back to me whenever I find myself furiously writing and thinking about something that’s complete bogus. Aiya…this world today is already too full of noise and wasted words. Why add to it? As a writer who craves silence, it’s easy to sink into a quandary revolving around this challenge: if I must go on writing, how can I do so without saying anything?

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Ask my bowl of rice about entropy

The second law of thermodynamics states that entropy will only ever increase.

As sure as time moves forward, things will break down. 

photo by Rodion Kutsaev

This morning, after warming up a bowl of rice, I sent a few grains flying with only a slight mis-movement on my part. Suddenly I had a problem. The small, light pieces of rice scattered with a surprising amount of force, as if they were finally set free from prison. I looked at the rice on the floor and couldn’t help but think of entropy.

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my jaw

First was worse, now is better.

There was a problem with my temporomandibular joint, on the right side of my face. The pain and stiffness has been on and off, but overall I’d say it was accruing, playing the long game. This started years ago. Yesterday, or maybe two, it reached a breaking point. The pain reached that level where you say, “enough is enough. I’ve got to at least conduct a google search about this.” And so I did.

I found a simple video with incredibly simple exercises for relieving pain. One of them simply advised me to open and close my mouth slowly. Surprisingly, I had never tried this before. I have opened my jaw in the past once or twice, only to test the limit of pain, but never before did I think to try to open it as a sort of therapeutic, stretching exercise. Other exercises included applying pressure to my jaw from each side, and pushing it back to stretch the joints.

It’s amazing how simple these exercises were, and amazing how I never thought to try them on my own. Another thing I learned is that the jaw pain can result from tension held in the jaws, and to fix that, one should be more mindful of when they are clenching their jaws. And now I’m checking in with myself more, noticing when I am anxiously clenching my jaws. Turns out, very often. So the pain from my jaws is connected to more than the little joint on the right side of my face, and partly results from anxiety, as well.

Sometimes, even seemingly trivial pains reach the point where you go to seek treatment. That crucial point is preceded by agony, and then helplessness. Sometimes, the treatment you receive is dead-easy, and the very low cost is far outweighed by how much the treatment makes you better. 

Makes me think about these everyday pains that we just accept and roll with, instead of investigating. They can be like tiny holes in a ship– eventually they could cause some serious damage, but often can just be plugged up and settled.