Of Omphaloskepsis and Vacansopapurosophobia
My last post was in May. The reasons for this are myriad, some cogent and valid, others less so. The longer I left updating, the harder it got. Many times, I would think up some blog-worthy topic and start to write it in my head but soon enough I convinced myself that it didn’t possess enough oomph for a dramatic comeback and let it go where good ideas go to die (is there a hospice for good ideas?).
Truth is I’m just fed up of that feeling I have when I have left something I should do undone. It’s not a feeling I like to feel but I can’t help feeling it when I feel it (you feel me?). It’s like a dull ache at the back of my head reminiscent of a scrawny, flee-covered dog that keeps rubbing against your leg, looking up at you doe-eyed and which, just won’t go away till you throw it a few scraps of food to sate its hunger. Extremely irritating. So this is me getting rid of that
dog feeling. I make no promises as to the ‘oomphness’ but this I can say for sure, this post will be completed and updated today – today being whatever day I actually complete it .
While indulging in copious amounts of navel-gazing about not writing, by the way did you know that the term ‘navel-gazing’ comes from ‘Omphaloskepsis’ which is the contemplation of one’s navel as an aid to meditation? Eww! Who does that? According to Wikipedia, it is done in the practice of yoga in Hinduism. Hmm, who knew? However I use ‘navel-gazing’ in the more common and jocular manner to mean self-absorption. Anyway, while I was mulling over my inability to write, I tried to narrow down the reason so that I could get rid of it. I went through a list of possibilities including;
- The challenges of everyday life
- Writers’ block
- The distractions of social media, books, etc
- The unofficial leave of my Muse
This list is by no means exhaustive but while all of the above are, to some degree, responsible for my not writing, they cannot take all the blame. I came to the conclusion that real culprit is something else, something I had not previously considered but, which when it came to me, made so much sense. And it is (cue drum roll) vacansopapurosophobia or something close. What on earth is that? I hear you ask. It’s quite a mouthful, I know, but be patient, my friend, all shall be revealed in good time.
I kept wondering why in spite of having all those brilliant ideas, every time I opened up a new document to start writing, I would struggle to actually commit them to paper or shall I say, computer screen. It turns out it was because of my reluctance to ruin a perfect blank page with what I considered sub-standard writing. You see, vacansopapurosophobia is the fear of a blank page which, technically, I don’t have. It’s not the fear of the blank page per se but a fear of not doing it the justice it deserves. The endless possibilities this blank canvas presents, the unharnessed potential of things that could be brought to life on this untainted surface and the awareness that what you write on it may truncate its destiny for greatness. It is this weighty responsibility that can be just as crippling as it is exciting. This wanting to do right by the page yet doubting your ability to actually do so. Who wants to be responsible for prematurely terminating another’s destiny?
Since I am always going to have to start out with a blank page, I need to confront this ‘fear’ and find a way to make it work for me. Courage, they say, is not the absence of fear, it is the acting, or the willingness, to act in spite of it. So this blog post is a tiny first step in trying to overcome it. Hopefully, it will be the first of many.