I’m the guy who was in serious doldrums this evening. I think it’s anxiety about work, but it’s been running me down for a while now. I feel overwhelmed, unable to get ahead because there are so many fires to put out. I’ve been talking to people less and less, and having more difficulty just keeping up a normal conversation.
When I got home tonight, I was pretty burned out. The mile with the dogs didn’t help much, and I came home and found myself staring out the window, emptying the dishwasher, and otherwise trying to avoid looking at computer or TV screens.
Eventually, I went downstairs to the library. Still dolorous, I looked over some shelves of books and told myself, “I’m never going to read any of these.” Then, on a whim, I reached out to pick up one of several collections of essays by William Gass, whom I haven’t read in many years. I opened The World Within the Word to its table of contents, saw, Proust at 100, took the book upstairs, cracked open the spine on page 147, and started reading.
At first, I kept losing focus, partly because of Gass’s gorgeous by sneaky prose but mainly because thoughts from the office kept intruding. So I began reading the pages aloud. I thought it would be good practice for the podcast, because I need to learn to record prose without falling into my distant, nasal, uninflected tone. But reading it aloud, finding the rhythms of the sentences, also drove all the office banalities from my mind.
I’m the guy who’s amazed at how far he’s fallen from himself.
UPDATE: Here’s a 9.5-minute audio clip of me reading from the essay! Enjoy! Or try to!