Words that I Cherish from a Cuban Writer

By Ben Anson

HAVANA TIMES – It is not an easy thing to pull through – loneliness. Not easy at all…

Someone once said: “loneliness is the ultimate poverty”.

Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is.

I confess, that I have thought it through a great deal over the course of this last week. Writing thrives within solitude. Therefore, it could very well be of decided necessity that the writer finds his or herself entrapped within a semi constant cycle of solitude. Necessary, that is, so that the writer may flourish due to having no other activity to indulge in other than to write.

The losing of oneself in the escapism of creating content, whether it be tales of fiction, factual articles or even poetry – is something that is more often than not, achieved via sheer solitude.

One must soak up the torturous state of loneliness with artistic or intellectual pursuits such as painting, instrument playing or indeed – writing. One who is capable of doing so, needless to say.

I have seen myself fail upon more occasions than I care to recall. I tend to give in to the alluring vices of rum and nicotine accompanied by some choice mediocre friends; friends who’d sooner drink themselves silly with me on a Tuesday night instead of committing to anything remotely constructive. As a result, I spend copious amounts of money on ridiculous bullshit in an attempt to lift my spirits (litre bottles of Ron Abuelo for instance) and thus wake up the next day with a hideous headache and empty pockets.

A terrible cycle that creates even more loneliness, as once you find yourself with empty pockets – nobody wants to know you. Those same mediocre friends who reclined upon your sofas, drank your beverages and elected songs of their choice on your music playing devices – are now with someone else – someone who’s currently holding paper.

I find myself quite alone in my apartment, time after time, with no possibility of receiving any form of company. Therefore, I write. I am forced to do so. In between fighting off the temptations of Netflix, rum and smokes. Unproductive, health-shattering motherfuckers that these three are.

I try my utmost to remain constructive. To do things that will potentially reward me with something. A sense of artistic achievement or even a small amount of income. It must be done, at all costs.

Upon doing so, I find that endorphins are released within me. I begin to feel better. Writing a chapter sure beats messaging people on WhatsApp – asking: “¿no quieres hacer algo?” “Do you want to do something?”

It was a year or so ago, perhaps slightly more, that I found my feelings and opinions towards combating loneliness – were shared. Shared, by none other than my favorite writer – the bold Pedro Juan Gutierrez. Fearless, sensational, cultist and quite perverse – truth be told, Pedro Juan’s gritty, merciless literary gems such as the “Dirty Havana Trilogy” and “Tropical Animal” – redefined literature for me.

I had never read works of fiction, which captured, impressed and inspired me so much as his. The fearless, unapologetic writing style of Gutierrez, is – if nothing else – admirable.

I would therefore like to share an excerpt from his book ‘Tropical Animal’ with all you fellow writers who have undoubtedly battled loneliness…

“Later I paint a little bit. There’s tranquility and silence these days and I benefit from being able to concentrate. Loneliness. Maybe one writes and paints not only to create a space of freedom, but rather also to feel accompanied. Not exactly to break loneliness. It’s not about that. Loneliness is always there. I feel it. I touch it. I talk with it. It forms part of my life. Loneliness is inevitable. And it helps. I concentrate more. I’m more me when we live pushed together: loneliness and me. We worship each other. I couldn’t live without loneliness.”

Words of immense depth and realistic beauty.

Gracias, Pedro Juan.

If you bear no interest in writing, then the point I wish to make is this: If lonely, turn your hand to a talent, to something that you enjoy. Do not let depression sink in where it then becomes almost impossible to want to even contemplate doing anything. Pursue whatever it is that grabs your interest. Do it and think no more. The more one thinks – the less one actually does.

Overthinking feeds loneliness.

Ben Anson

“The moment that I disembark (from a plane), I notice that everything in my body and in my mind readjusts itself for me", so remarked Gabriel Garcia Marquez - when speaking of his relationship with the Caribbean. He felt the strongest physical and mental connection with this part of the world and deemed it as far as ‘grave’ and immensely ‘dangerous’ for him to leave its zone. Only here, did ‘Gabo’ feel ‘right’ in himself. Honduras, does for me - precisely what the Caribbean did for Marquez. A resplendent yet troubled nation, that I have been decidedly unable to part with ever since 2014. I thus seek to capture its essence through the written word.



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