“The Center Will Not Hold” is the title of a new documentary on Joan Didion, a writer whose words have many a lot to many people. It is now on Netflix. I watched it, yesterday. The title of the documentary comes from the line of W.B. Yeats poem, “The Second Coming.”
The word “sprightly” almost makes Didion sound heavy. She is more a part wisp. Though wispy in appearance, her words are not. They cast an edge on what has been seen with her eyes, what she has lived through and how she thinks.
After watching the documentary, I thought about the title, what she said and how I could use hew words to get my writing center back in form. Although not a terribly deep documentary on writing or on Didion, as I believe that she is complex and could have take much more than a bit over an hour, to show more of who she is, I got some things I needed out of it.
Somehow, in thinking about that question, ” Does the center ever hold?” I thought about hurricanes. We have had recent experience with hurricanes and hurricane, “talk,” this year. Weathermen have been in their glory doing their show and tell, explaining how many of the storms start off the coast of Africa, and then develop energy and strength. Then all of the pieces come together and form a hurricane with an eye, or center. The storm revolves around the center.
I began thinking about that in terms of my life. I then stretched from hurricanes to baking and how sometimes the center of a cake or pie holds and sometimes it does not.
Bingo. That really is how part of my life works. Not only my creative life, but my relationships, thoughts and actions.
Things will be relatively calm and then something off the coast of my own Africa, comes to life, travels across my psyche, gathers energy and creates a center that sometimes builds more energy, or sometimes, goes whack-a-doodle- and flies apart like when you lift a spinning mixer out of a bowl of cake batter, and the batter flies and splatters all over the place.
Just as many hurricanes peter out before the hit landfall, so do many of my ideas.
It is the way of nature. My nature.
There was something Didion said that resonated with me and gave me courage. It made me realize that I have been off of my center for over a year. Part of it involves dealing with eyes and an icky gallbladder and not being able to drive. Another part has been this whole concept of moving into t new neighborhood and figuring out what that is and isn’t about. And because I have had very limited driving and I couldn’t get out and do what I had loved to do, I simply have not had four wheels on the ground.
Didion has waltzed to her own Mozart. I am best when I do, too. When I try to “fit in” to something that is not me, I go flying off center. Talking to too many people does that to me, too. I love it when my center is strong and the world and people can spin and do their own dances around me, with me peeking in from time to time, but not have that be the center of my existence.
For a while, recently, have let the outside world affect my thinking, writing, and self.
That isn’t good for me. It isn’t who I am.
So, I feel some turbulence rumbling off the coast of my Africa. The winds and tides have shifted. I plan to live stronger. Let things and people go. I will seek a current that moves me forward, and build the self that has been wobbly for too long.
I see a strong center on the horizon.