I’ve been having some major writer’s block lately so today I busted out some special help and went back to the basics of writing practice. The following was written on my old typewriter and retyped here.
The desk lamp shining down on my page once belonged to my great-grandfather. I don’t actually remember him, truth be told I’m not sure he was even alive when I was born. I do respect the memory of course, and I love the older style of the lamp, but it means more to me because I inherited it when my great-grandmother passed away in the early 2000’s. She was a 101 when she passed and I always thought she was a pretty cool old woman.
My mother pulled the lamp from a pile of dust-covered belongings my great-grandmother had never had the heart to be rid of. It’s brown. That ancient shade of brown that was very popular around the time of WWII. Though I can’t be sure how old the lamp is because it’s got a flourescent bulb and I have no idea how long those have been in use. In fact, for all I know the bulb may be as old as the lamp itself.
I’ve had the lamp for years, but it was usually stuffed in a closet or a garage. It had never worked before. The wiring was corroded and rotten, but since I added some more quality furniture to my apartment, pieces that have a more timeless appeal, I’ve pulled the lamp out of my closet and have been using it for decoration.
Today, on a whim, I decided to re-wire it. It took me a little more than 20 minutes and 5 dollars in parts. Strangely enough, the moment I plugged it in and flipped the switch, the light came on without hesitation or pause. I guess they don’t make things like they used to.
In tribute to my great-grandparents and all the things they’ve passed to me through the generations, as soon as I got the lamp working I dusted off my typewriter.
It’s a fantastic experience. Writing completely old school.
It’s a massive beast. An old Smith-Corona, weighing in at about 5 to 10 pounds. Completely manual. Everything is determined by finger strength, which is turning out to be a great workout for the Pinkies. (Truth be told, after typing for nearly an hour I’m having to hold back on my laptop to avoid damaging the keys.)
The joy of typing on this beast makes me smile. The sound fills the room. The rattle and roar of the keys rumbles like a freight train. I can feel the vibrations in the floor as I type. Sometimes the keys bind because I’m punching several different letters at the same time. And spelling or grammar mistakes are far more permanent.
The noise of the machine compliments the light from my desk lamp as perfectly as I hoped it would. I’ve been fairly stymied lately when it comes to writing, so this gives me a chance to do some good flow practice and get my brain back into the practice of stringing words and phrases together to do something meaningful.
All writing is stringing nonsense together until it means something useful. No word ever stands alone. Not even the supposedly dramatic ones like “Always” or “Forever”.
Even pages and pages of writing is meaningless if you can’t read them.
According to Mathematics, sentences contain truth, but propositions contain belief. Every proposition is a possible world that may or may not be true and it is up to us to chose if we believe or not.
This is something we do on a daily basis and never give much thought.
Our base assumptions, those things we believe to be true without thinking about them, form our world. They are the basis for optimism, pessimism, depression, or even happiness. Can a person ever change? Can the world be a happy place or is it layer upon layer of struggle?
Is our world one of endless suffering or a misbegotten paradise?
I’ve decided I’m going to leave the typewriter out. The feeling of slamming the keys down is so visceral. It’s something I’ve been wanting for a long time.
I guess My great-grandfather’s lamp really did help me see the light.