In order to finish typing and editing Alex's book by July 3rd, 2018, I need to average approximately 1.47 pages per day. One and a half pages, basically. Today was day one, and I'm already on page six.
This is precisely why I need this project.
One of the traits Alex and I share (shared? When should I start using the past tense in reference to him? It doesn't feel right yet, so I'll wait, I guess) is the tendency to become so engrossed in a project that all other responsibilities fall to the wayside, the boxes on my meticulous to-do lists go unchecked, the dog sits by the door, wondering why we haven't been on our walk yet. It's a level of focus that borders on obsessive, as the idea of quitting for the day induces a crippling anxiety that can only be relieved by working even harder. You'd think this kind of dogged work ethic would be beneficial, but I think it ends up blowing up in our faces more often than not. It's exhausting to care that much about one singular thing, and most of the time, our frantic pursuit of the finish line leaves us too tired to get there.
But I can't burn out on this.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Alex and I is our understanding of our individual limits. He simultaneously behaved as if he had no limits and yet was paralyzed by a seemingly infinite amount of them, letting himself spiral into oblivion because he didn't believe he could do anything else. I, on the other hand, am aware of my tendency to let myself disappear into things, and know I need to pace myself. Running has helped me with that. I tried to get Alex into running, but the poor guy had asthma and just couldn't keep up, though he really did try.
I need this project to last until July 3rd of next year because if I don't, if I consume it all in one sitting as I am so tempted to, it'll eat me alive. I know this. It's like the first few miles of a marathon. If you don't start out slower than you feel is necessary, you'll end up crashing by mile 20. I don't want the process of reading, typing, and editing my brother's book to feel like hitting the wall. I want to finish feeling stronger than I started, and to do that I need to take my time. I need to process this slowly. Take small bites so I don't choke. Besides, Alex loved poetry, and how much more poetic could it be than to finish the book exactly two years after he began the editing process, exactly one year after his death? I mean, it's practically Shakespearean.
While typing out today's page allotment, I noticed two things: one, that his handwriting is truly terrible, and two, he has the same tendency to get distracted on the way to the point as I do. This really bothers me in my own writing, but I am enjoying his excessive descriptions, occasional repetitiveness, and unnecessary turns of phrase that were clearly ego strokes and much as they were pen strokes. As I type his words, I hear his voice narrating them to me. When I misspell something, I can almost feel him leaning over my shoulder, squinting at the screen, saying, "It's a wonder you passed the fourth grade!" This makes me chuckle, and I delete the typo, determined to spell it correctly without right clicking on the word underlined in red and letting Microsoft bail me out of my mistake. "There you go, dummy!" He says. "Now, where were we..."
I don't believe in God, ghosts, heaven, or hell. I don't believe his spirit is with me, or that he is looking over for me from some other world or dimension. Those things aren't real, and things that aren't real bring me no comfort. But this book, these 493 pages scrawled with his awful chicken scratch that I can barely make out, is, and as I read it, I am reminded that he was, too.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. My body is a lot smarter than my brain. That’s not saying much, seeing as the t...