Want to know a magic trick? I know, I shouldn’t reveal my secrets, but it’s a good one.
How do you make someone bristling with energy, innovation, and ambition disappear?
Simple, put them to work for twelve hours. The zombie that steps through their front door in the evening will be a crude facsimile of the firebrand that exited that morning.
This is obvious hyperbole, or perhaps not so obvious. It may not be exaggeration at all.
Either way I have sat in front of my computer and set the keyboard in front of me. My fingers sprint, then pause. They dance over the letters of the English alphabet. My mind is fuzzy and feels stretched out.
I’ve done a lot of thinking today, because that is what I do.
My line of work is mercifully bereft of the kinds of social interactions many people encounter at their jobs. I am left alone, to repeat simple physical motions over and over again, for hours on end. My mind and my ears both free, both unneeded to complete the day’s work.
It is luck alone that accounts for my becoming addicted to audiobooks. I forget how it all started. I know that the ones I listened to first came from Librivox.org.
Librivox is an interesting site. They organize volunteer readings of public domain books. It’s a simple premise. I want to say that I started off listening to a compilation of works written by H.P. Lovecraft.
At first it was for entertainment, a way to pass the crawling hours in uncomfortable places. These distraction became integral for retaining my sanity. Music became repetitive and I could never find enough of it. I would always find myself on the receiving end of diminishing aural returns. They only entertained for so long. I needed something…meatier.
I can’t recall how, but I ended up downloading a bunch of audiobooks off of Librivox. Fact and fiction both. In a matter of days I’d be finished a book, only to replace it immediately with another. They were all thrown into the ravenous maw of my job.
The job was never sated.
Construction sites are similar to the forest, in a way, because they do not exist for the comfort of human beings. They are rough, edged, sharp.
The construction site, like the forest, has not yet been sanded down. Neither have been padded for our asses and elbows; they have not been ergonomically designed. A person who wants to be at ease in the woods learns to compromise, to conform or conquer in small ways. It is the same when inside the skeleton of a future building.
You learn to adapt, or you go mad.
My love of audiobooks ended up extending into a passion for podcasts. To this day, I still listen to both at work, in the car, and at home.
This is probably what inspired me to start a podcast. A podcast that, as you may already know, is very much like an audiobook.
I get a lot of time to think on the jobsite, you see. I plot and plan. Outlines grow from my brain like some kind of parasitic mushroom. I am compelled to climb higher and higher, until I become food for my own projects, spurred on by the spores of story.
When I lose myself in the repetition, I ponder. The predictable rhythms soothe my psyche, for a time, and allow me to explore my ideas.
My brain crafts tales, weaves epiphanies like strands of sticky spiders-webs, until it turns on itself. An ephemeral cannibal, broken off mid-way from a stubbed toe or barked shin. The chaos of haphazard wooden frames calls my mind away from sequential thought.
Like a skipping record, it replays but does not complete.
It replays but- (ouch)
It replays but- (what?)
It replays but- (where?)
So I need the audiobooks you see, the podcasts. I need them like the crutch they are. Something to take my mind off of the distractions. A synthetic stream of consciousness located in another world, away from the land of rusted nails and glass splinters. A prosthetic sense of wonderment and interest.
Not so much a hobby born of misfortune, as an opportunity too slowly uncovered.
Tonight I will sleep, and tomorrow I will work on The Witch-Doctor rewrite.
Keep on shining, you crazy diamonds.