The First Step

In the past three years since graduating from college, I've done many things. I've dreamed of writing a novel, of publishing poetry and prose. None of it has panned out, so far. I've tried to mold myself into the best golfer I could possibly be, taking lessons, logging in the hours on the practice tee and green, and playing in tournaments. At some point, I abandoned that dream. I've served a million tables in three different cities to support myself. The stories collected from the cross-section of society I've encountered as a waiter could fill volumes. I haven't documented a single story; haven't written down a word.

As the saying goes, the longest journey starts with the first step. So why does the first step always seem to be the most difficult? Instead of relishing in miraculous process of your art, of plying ink to paper, of putting down the first sentence of a document, one often feels daunted by the enormousness and protraction of a project.

Even now, with this blog, I've been writing and revising for almost a week when I know I should just submit the first post and move on to the next. After all, this is the blogosphere we're talking about here. Nothing fancy, nothing professional. Just a spontaneous outpouring of inspiration, Wordsworthian style. A medium still evolving, 500 years removed from Montaigne, as bloggers continually "essay to be."

Here's a glimpse of the poemblog I've been working on:

I've dipped my toe into the rushing
river of the internet, the endless
flow of bits and bytes
that courses on forever over
mountains of metallic matter.

It goes on from there, equating the internet and the complex web of code and information to a liquid undercurrent beneath all of humanity. It attempts to invoke images of eternal streams of creativity and charge them with an artificial electricity, morphing the water into mechanisms and machines. It tries to spawn the image of a cyborg, half man and half machine, still dreaming human dreams though expressing them through immaterial outlets. It tries to do too much, like so many undertakings. And that is why I've set it down.

I was going to attempt a high-flown poem for my first blog entry that most likely would have taken some explaining for anyone to glean from it what I intended it to convey. It all seems like rubbish to me now. The time has come to get these thoughts, these dreams, these experiences out on the internet for all to see.

I've driven across the country vertically and horizontally. For those trips, there is no record. My best friend and I accomplished the great American road trip recently--New Orleans, the Grand Canyon, Vegas, Nor Cal, "Bender Tour 2010"--all before I had a blog. This time last year I moved 1,300 miles for love, to Chicago, and came sulking back with my tail between my legs. For this there is no blog. I spent six months in the Windy City, a Floridian far from home, and had experiences I couldn't relay to you if I tried. Perhaps that's why there is no blog. I've been to Holland, Belgium, Germany, Prague, London. No blog. I won my Club Championship in 2007. No blog. In 2008 I discovered for the first time in my life what it means to be present in the moment. No blog, no record. I've been to Bonnaroo, seen The Boss, been inspired by The Rez. At 23 years old I discovered Los Lobos, the best band I never knew about. Again, there was no blog.

For all these things I've kept scraps, journals, notes and folders, saving memories for myself for the day when I could compile them and make some sense of the journey I've been on. Tiny paper pills (with respect to Sherwood Anderson) fill folders and shoe boxes. I lug them with me all over America, waiting for the magic day of motivation. Some even outline the stories for my "Self-Published Column," an idea I've had for so long now that doesn't seem to be growing legs. I bought the domain, paulhaney.com, but got snagged up in the web design. The idea was to erect this website and publish my own columns, sending them out to the email list of everyone I've ever known in my life. Ambitious, I know. Perhaps that's why I had so much trouble taking the first step.

I leave you with the final stanza of the poemblog I recently abandoned:

Now I ride this raft of rhymes,
this bed of wires,
atop these floating threads of fire,
a drifter on the halcyon seas;
a surfer riding waves of whimsy,
a lunatic beneath a mechanical moon
in a screensaver sky, peering up
at the cosmos coalescing and
collapsing in a complex of tubes
that hums a halogen tune,
returning to the timeless trance that
inspires my electronic ambitions.