I don’t always agree with ol’ Brooks Jensen but I do enjoy listening to his podcast. This specific…release? episode?…struck a chord with me though. He reads from the introduction of James T. Farrell’s Studs Lonigan:
There is the self-imposed loneliness. There is the endless struggle to perceive freshly and clearly—to realize and recreate a sense of life on paper. […] the writer feels frequently that he is competing with time and life itself. His hopes will sometimes ride high; his ambitions will soar until they have become so grandiose that they cannot be realized within the space of a single lifetime.
The world opens up before the young writer as a grand and glorious adventure in feeling and in understanding. Nothing human is unimportant to him. Everything that he sees is germane to his purpose. Every word that he hears uttered is of potential use to him. Every mood, every passing fancy, every trivial thought can have its meaning and its place in the store of experience which he accumulates. The opportunities for assimilation are enormous—endless—and there is only one single short life of struggle in which to assimilate.
A melancholy sense of time becomes a torment. One’s whole spirit rebels against a truism which all men must realize because it applies to all men. One seethes in rebellion against the realization that the human being must accept limitations—that he can develop in one line of effort only at the cost of making many sacrifices in other lines. Time becomes for the writer the most precious good in all the world and how often will he not feel that he is squandering this precious good.
I suppose there are many versions of this sentiment written by a diverse group of people—there’s nothing new under the sun. It was interesting, however, to hear it spoken out loud while riding my bike to work through headphones that are connected by magic to a phone that the author could have used to his great advantage by storing notes, recordings, and photographs.