Back in the early 1990’s, when I first heard about the internet I grew so excited I couldn’t sleep. I imagined that any kind of information, usually found on paper, would be available to me on my computer. The music score for Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor? There. The Dead Sea Scrolls? Even if I couldn’t read them, I thought I’d be able to see them. When I did get access to the internet, disappointed as I was to get access only to card catalogues of some libraries after following Gopher’s torturous pathways, I still believed someday a great electronic encyclopaedia of the world’s knowledge would come.
So here I am 20 years later with every newspaper I could wish to read, streaming radio, youtube performances, millions of books whenever I turn on my computer, linked up to the net. And on my day off, when I think I have enough time to explore, I find myself stymied, bored in a way. The sheer vastness of what is available to me weighs me down, even as the sun has lost its morning hope and begins reddening with the end of the day.
I hotly defend to myself my need to have access, even my right. But the curious thing is I end up feeling that everyone else is doing better than I am. No point in me writing my own music…there’s much better out there to listen to. With so much to read, why should I bother writing? Even simpler things, like making my own toothpaste. Isn’t better to follow someone else’s tried and true recipe rather than invent my own?
Writer’s block, I say under my breath, when I find the longed-for free time to write, and unable to make myself sit at the word processor and begin. Intellectually, I believe in the value of the individual. I believe we are each different and I rejoice when I stumble upon a new voice that brings me a unique understanding or pleasure. But it seems so hard to grant that belief to myself.
I hereby pledge to myself to find a moment to switch off, and listen for the voice within.