Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Blank Document

If you were to take a container of water, and for the sake of this discussion the container is the size required to make your thoughts connect with what is being written, and you were to spill the water out of the container onto the ground, where do you think it would go? It’s not a fair question for the answer would depend entirely upon where you were.  On a flat hard surface the water might pool. In the desert the ground might absorb it totally.  Were you to pour the water onto a city street it should run into the gutters and then into the storm system where it is carried away from your sight, unless you feel muchly like crawling around in pipes to follow it.Do you? I will wait for there would be a good story there. 

But let us suppose, and we can you know, for there is nothing to prevent this from happening at all, that you tipped the container over in the middle of a forest somewhere, and instead of there being a few ounces of water or a few gallons, there was an unlimited amount of water in the vessel and you could follow it ever may lead. At your feet the water would leech into the ground but then it would begin to pool, and it would follow the path of least resistance and go downhill. The lower places near you, the stump holes and small depressions would fill, and then the water would gain some direction and follow the lay of the land.

This is my blank document. When I sit down to write there are times I know exactly what I am going to write, what I am going to do with my times and my words, and sometimes I sit down and spill the container, and follow the words. I have followed flood waters before, no, not the roaring rushing thundering movie type water but the water rising slowly type flood, than creeps steadily upward because downstream is too full.  Sometimes writing is like that. Whatever is happening in my life right now has caused this to be. Stop thinking of events as bad or good but instead consider the consequences of those events and you’ll see why this is being written, or you will not, it doesn’t matter.

The container gushes out water and there are islands formed, high places in the low places, and there those small creatures who were lucky enough to swim out of their cover find themselves trapped. These are not islands with deer or bears or elk, no, these are islands with crickets and spiders. The flood begins in small places before it winds up in larger places, but this is the shape of things to come if the water does not cease. You consider the mindless bug on their tiny island and you, in compassion or boredom, wonder why they do not flee, for why would they stay if the water rises? Yet I can tell you as a fact human beings will stay also. They will not leave their dust and broken dreams behind them.  This too is why I write and why I do not walk away from the blank document, even though my life is receding under the wash of time with each and every second.

The water does not cease and eventually it begins to have momentum. It carves and pushes the earth. It undermines trees and it follows caves down. It fills the low places and then it breaks away with a rush, eating down to the stone, etching a roadway for water. Writing does this too, you know, when it is done well, when there is momentum enough, and a writer can get down to the bedrock of thought. It matters very little of what might stand in the way of either for both ink and water seem to have power that people will ignore until there is a rushing wall of force that no dictator or structure has withstood in time.

Where some see an empty document, or a black piece of paper, or a dry streambed, other see a rush, a flood, a rising tide that obeys only the moon up above and is filled with simple rain and carries with it everything, anything, all, and does never stop in end endless and maddening cycle that cannot be controlled but must only be obeyed in each generation and with every thought.  You cannot stand in its way. You can only hope to ride the crest long enough to fill the exhilaration of the current before you in turn are carried under. 

When you see the crude carvings of bone and rock, when you see the painting of a cave wall or a rock face, you are seeing no more and no less what you are seeing now. You are seeing the Pyramids when you look on the refrigerator door at finger painting. You see no more and no less everything there is to see in art when you see one piece, and in that one piece you see not a rock or a stone or a color or a tone, but when you look into that mess on a piece of paper held in place by a magnet holding aloft the fingerprints of a child you see nothing less than the DNA of us all in thought.

Thought is nothing more and it is certainly nothing less than the whole of humanity in motion. It us all and is it one of us. We are the hive and we are the Hermit. We are the black document and we are the encyclopedia. We are the dew and we are the ocean.  We are the puddle and we are the river.

The vessel is empty and the water ceases to run after a while. The carvings fill in with rain and the spiders return to their stones. The flood is gone and after a while the forest forgets it. But the document that is no longer blank is never truly gone.  From the caves to the deserts to the refrigerator door to… here. 

The vessel is not empty. Thought has brought you here.

Take Care,


  1. I am one of those who sometimes want to walk away and have my head quiet for a while, but I never do. Ultimately I am grateful I took the time to fill my blank document...

    1. The more quiet there is inside the greater the flood.

  2. So, Mr Firesmith, you feel if the words come fast enough, and long enough, you’ll wash us all away. Balderdash, say I, challenge accepted.

    That slurry of thoughts sloshing around it you noggin may never make sense if you don’t pour it out… see what coalesces in the hollows, and what just runs off.

    1. I, as an individual entity, have very little to do with this process, Bruce.