Finding ‘The Others’

The latest bulletin from Zen Pencils was delivered to my inbox this morning. It’s a piece of advice from Timothy Leary, the counter-culture psychologist, author and pioneer of psychedelic drugs, about how we need to search to find ‘The Others’—fellow members of whatever tribe we belong to.

102. TIMOTHY LEARY: You aren’t like them

Then I wondered, in a whimsical way, about how I’d recognise a fellow writer out in the wild. Would they be like me, somewhat distracted and living in their fictional world, scribbling down ideas on a shopping list as they navigated the supermarket aisle. Possibly they’d be muttering to themselves, as dialogue was tried out and rejected.

In a library or bookshop, an author with a work in progress might have an expression that mixed delight at being among books, along with annoyance when they saw the works of a writer they despised and whose success they didn’t understand.

For my own part, I spend so much time alone indoors writing and editing, only venturing outside for a couple of hours a week to shop for food, that I sometimes feel like a creature on parole from a zoo’s nocturnal collection. A bushbaby blinking at the light, wondering at all of the people going about their normal business.

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