Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sparkline 150

It's only a mile to the river..

Walking each day through the seasons that go from green to red to white, to flood and back to snow. . Click here to walk with me to the river.
So for anyone who is reading this, I think you should take a moment now to list everything you did that made a difference. If you are a writer, and you made a difference helping someone else, write about it. If you are a carpenter and you made a difference helping someone fix a door, write about it.

As we sing our own song, we can inspire other people to dance.

I am resolved to keep writing. I will work on my book because it is intriguing to build a world. I will talk about myself on this blog because that's what blogs are for and I will keep moving forward, remembering to keep a spring in my step as the ground warms beneath me.

Surviving the Waterfall of Words

 During my struggling years, I compromised in order to keep my paycheck coming and now I realize that compromise is always the first way out of quality.

Quality writing and quality art of any kind has to be an honest expression of the creator. Unfortunately, honest self-expression does not have much place in the world where every act and every thought is instantly homogenized on the Internet, on television, on film, in art and in music. We judge everything by the attention it gets whether the thought is honest, intelligent, or even moral. Perhaps it is no different than it has ever been because a great artist, of any kind, has been rarely recognized by the generation in which he or she lives.

But the speed of recognition today is part of today's generation. Twenty years ago, I was lucky enough to be a working writer when computers and the Internet were in their infancy. Only the rich had cellular phones. At the time, the things we created were still encased in paper. The computer was a very smart typewriter, just a little bit more useful than the electronic typewriters that were already storing words on discs that today could not be read by any current device. Then, the Internet and the intranet became the word and the word became transient. I wonder if all of these electronically stored documents will be decipherable hundred years from now after technological evolution, perhaps national disasters, or a global shift in literacy from the printed word to the spoken word digitally stored and automatically translated to the culture and the language of the user.

In the beginning, the word was carved on stone. Now we send it via an electronic pulse into the stratosphere over radio waves and it evaporates when it is used. I wonder about the maxim that energy cannot be created or destroyed. We are creating this massive, confusing digital cacophony of electrical impulses. Where will these impulses end up? What will they become?

In this generation, we're getting a skewed version of statistics because we have so many of them. Are there really more suicides among teenagers than they used to be? Or, maybe, it is just that we know about them. Or, maybe, the knowing and the reading inspires copycats. Perhaps we are drowning in too much information. Or we are evolving into a type of humanity for survival of the fittest is dictated by the ability to handle vast quantities of data, and unlimited options without crumbling.

So where can writing go these days? Perhaps, it will do what is always been able to do. The writers of today can conform to the tastes and the dictates of the attention-paying public or in moments of solitude, when nobody is watching, perhaps they can still create original material that will actually appear on paper or some other medium that will not lose its structure over time.

But what will creative writers write about? It seems that the waterfall of information conveyed online and digitally drowns readers in self-absorbed expressions of being misunderstood, of being in love, of not being in love, of sex, of violence, of ethical platitudes, in such vast quantities that, like the Tower of Babel, meaning is left behind in the speed and the bulk of information barreling across cyberspace.

Perhaps we can write about all of these things in a way that will help people look outside themselves. The great poets and writers of past centuries and old cultures still resonate in our minds if we take the time to read the words and listen to the rhythm of the spaces between them.

Maybe nothing has changed at all.


That Dreams May Come

I'm beginning to see that it isn't the conclusion that gives a person satisfaction but it is the performance. As we dream, we act and in that action we get fodder for the next dream and the next day. Without dreams, we grow old as we approach the long sleep and could fall into the deadly trap of believing  that sleeping is sometimes a happier state than waking.

Shakespeare said something about that....

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?

To be here or not to be here ... that is the question.

The question is there but it's the pursuit of the answers that make our days.

When we were small, my mother had stories for everything. She told us that the trees turned red in the fall because it was their last party before they went back to school and had to wear the gray school uniform of winter. I think now, in her mind, her leaves are golden and winter will never come.

Her stories worked until puberty gave us our own perception of realities and her imagination could no longer control us. I think that was when she began to retreat into the fictions of her mind, which became so strong that she made some of them come true. There is a strength in an unrelenting viewpoint which can refashion the world around it. There is strength in the power of prayer.

I have to believe that my prayers go somewhere and that during my prayers I enter her dreams. In the world she created for her dream time before her sleep time, she talks to me. There, we hug each other and we love each other.

What dreams are there for me now that I am retired from my real job and  longer bound by the demands of corporate writing?  I find I have a new kind of loneliness. I am tempted  to create an imaginary script for myself as my mother did in which my perceptions in my dream world shield me . They would provide a retreat from aching bones and from the diseases attached to aging that may wait for me.

However I am primarily a journalist and not a fiction writer. I want my life to be bounded by the reality that exists. I want to be able to face adversity and illness and pain with every tool available to me. I want to be able to understand the world that I live in and understand that I cannot change it; I can only accept it and find joy in it.

One year, I walked on a gray day along the flat sandy beach on the Oregon coast. Massive boulders stabbed the skyline. In the mists they were silhouettes. As I became closer they acquired dimension. I could not reach their base because of the churning tide. But on the top of the crags I saw seagulls perch, wheel skyward and land again. That was an intense reality, an intense source of joy. I was without a companion on that beach but I was not alone. As I tried to understand the life of the Seagull, as I felt the salt air on my cheeks; I felt joy. That was a happy moment. Those moments strung together, even if separated by a few dark beads, become the necklace or the rosary of a happy life.

 I believe I may not be able choose my level of vigor as the years pass but I cannot let myself retreat into dreams and memories.

I have no idea what lies ahead. My script has no plot. It has emotions and I hope it includes courage but I cannot alter reality by pretending it isn't there. I can only alter the way I deal with it.  My mother provided me with the tools. These include creativity, a love of learning and a sense of humor. I hope these tools will help me find a path between the physical manifestations that govern the time in which I walk. I hope they will lead me to an understanding of the differences between real-time, dream time, story time and final sleep time.