May 31, 2020

Xanadu

In the Summer of 1797, Samuel Coleridge went into an opium-fueled fugue state (he said he was ill, so technically, that opium was medicine), writing Kubla Khan before someone knocked on his door, causing him to exit said drug induced addle, and forget the rest of his poem.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
   Down to a sunless sea.

More recently, Oliver Sacks, the late neurologist and author, admitted that the initial spark of his remarkable career was from a migraine inspired cocktail of psychedelic drugs.  This is from his interview with Neil DeGrasse Tyson on his podcast, Star Talk:

…And there was a very disingenuous clamor of names [which] came to me, followed by a very loud inner voice which said “You silly bugger. You’re the man.”  When I came down from that, that sense that I was the man, and this was my subject, stayed with me.

And I wrote my book on Migraine, and I never took drugs again.

While a Nyquil swig when I’m ill is about all the hallucinogenic stupor I can manage, I bring these up because these are two gentlemen who went after a career they wanted.  There is inspiration, there is passion, sure, but what about the Vocation?  What is it that even a migraine can’t make you leave?

Today is the First Day of my new career.  This is the career I have pursued since I forced my ten-year-old classmates to buy my handwritten, hand-drawn books for ten cents each. Those would be considered “artisanal” now, and would be much more expensive. No bacon -smell or mustache wax needed.

IMG_1854
Mosaic of the Arts

Yesterday, on my last day of my medical career, I had lunch with two friends who are also following their passions.  They quit their office jobs three years ago to open a media company in order to make documentaries. They put in the hard work every day; whether they have paid projects, or are working on a no-budget passion documentary. This is the work that looks easy.  It isn’t.

There is a catalog of books on inspiration and self-help, actualization and creative living.  This is a well-worn trail up this mountain.  But I think I speak for many travelers when I say that when you finally put your feet on this particular path, you feel like maybe you are the first. There will be tears.  There will be blisters and bad weather, maybe even a pack blow-out.  But no worries, there’s plenty of water, and I still have my inhaler.

My desk is cluttered.  My feet are cold.  I still haven’t vacuumed the floor.  But I’ve written and edited all morning, and my heart is full.

ushering you to Xanadu
The Library of Congress.  All. Of. The. Books. What better Xanadu? But only if they allowed hot tea.

This is my Xanadu, my pleasure-dome.

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