Pockets are slippery things. A phone can dislodge as easily as skin cells shed from the slightest abrasion. Keys can slip underneath a couch fast as a sneeze can form from unsettled dust. A phone number can slip your mind and wind up pocket lint after the wash.
In my pockets today I carried a lighter and my wallet when I went out into the world. No smoking because I could not find anywhere to buy smokes in this pocket of this city and the one person I saw with one I did not feel like asking. I did not want. Slowly I am slipping away from the routine of cigarettes although I also forgot the dog on my walk. I walked north. There were rolling hills and the sun was intense. Two bicyclists passed me on the sidewalk and one car would not pause for me as it turned left into a parking lot.
Read more short essays by Cynthia Ozick tonight. The one that struck me most was about the permission to write. This permission must come first from oneself. The world by and large will not allow you to write. For to do the sort of serious writing—the sort where you don't need to ask for permission—one must either seclude oneself from society or attempt to coexist by being in and of the world. Most choose the latter with its norms with regard to social interactions and work obligations. Ozick calls this latter sort good citizen writers, who are tolerated by those around them until the moment they choose writing over conversing or being present in some other way away from the act of writing. Ozick grew up in the 30s; even so I wonder to what extent technology has changed her distinction.
Even though we
are here in this pocket of no-space in between real time,
isolation remains essential to real work. When compelled by the act of composition, my mind may move a sentence or even a word at a time—which may or may not be done whilst walking or talking. Having a notebook and pen in the pocket helps, sometimes.