Today I found out my computer keyboard was broken, and I had an unreasonably strong reaction. I felt an initial sense of panic. And shortly afterward, I felt an urgency to replace it. The only other time I felt this way was my senior year of high school. It was a Friday and I remember coming home from school, sitting in my room and feeling for the first time that day that I could be myself. And it felt good, so I wanted to let more of it out — to somehow express me — so I went downstairs to the piano and I started to play. But it had been two years since I quit, which meant it was two years since I last pushed down a key, so each note felt heavy. It was the same uncomfortable pressure you feel when you need to barf, but can’t. And I felt panic, followed by an urgent need to replace it.
So I guess, for me, it’s an outlet. But the outlet isn’t solely in the content. The QWERTY keyboard has turned into more of an instrument — almost a substitution for a piano — where it’s not just about the notes being played, but also which finger is pressing the keys and the force with which I press each key. Of course, much of it doesn’t show up on the page, and perhaps that makes this exercise silly. But when I type these words, I feel the pressure of the keys underneate the very tips of my fingers, which is what I use because my middle school piano teacher, Bair, used to stab me with a mechanical pencil right below the nail so I would painfully remember exactly how to strike the keys.
So when I write — especially for this blog — my keyboard is an instrument. And when I put words on a page, it’s a way of improvising music onto a page, where the way I feel is just as important as the way the reader feelings. Perhaps it’s not as pure as a musician caressing his instrument. But it’s what I have, and it sooths the panic and the urgency. It makes me feel new, as if I’ve let out something that’s been fighting to get out.
A lot of times, I just want to write about how jealous I am of another person’s talents or how much I love my girlfriend or how much I miss my parents. But instead, I end up writing a vague metaphor that means nothing to me or whoever else strumbling upon these posts. I guess that’s because I want these words to have relevance beyond myself; I don’t want it to turn into a Xanga, where I just write about the things that made me feel a tinge of emotion. I want to be thoughtful and evocative and visceral — and I want it to have some artistry — because I don’t want to cheapen the act of writing. I really don’t care if other people push words onto a page as phrases fly through their mind. But, for me, I mind. It’s not any high-falutin reason. It’s just that, for me to feel a release from this, I need to play decent music that hits the right chords and in the right progression. I need to play the music that I hear in my head.
January 13, 2012