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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Place, the Space

              It started with watching the shadows of palm fronds waving across a wall. I did not have to look for the palm. I knew it was there. I did not have to look for the sun. It was heading up from the east.

         I knew it was there.

          Everything was where it was supposed to be and for some reason my thoughts traveled to France. Well my mind did anyway. I remembered hearing that James Fenimore Cooper wrote Last of the Mohicans while working in a salon in Paris in the 1820’s. He must have felt comfortable there. He must have looked out over the rooftops each morning and watched the tiles of the roofs come into focus with the slow brightening of the clouded skies over his arrondisement in Paris.
     It was a view he had grown comfortable with and his mind could travel back to a place far away, across and ocean and a hundred years back in time. His thoughts were calm with the moment, his vision was familiar and it was easy to look back at a past he could only imagine.

               I think you need (better yet, I need)that sort of familiarity with a space. For me, in an ever changing environment, I write on-line, articles, short stories. When I have the same view, the same sounds, the anticipation of new dulls and I can write a longer piece.  I suspect the less I am pulled out of my moment, my imagination has a fertile media in which to play.

               Sometimes (as my wife complains) too long.

               Characters grow character. We can anticipate how they will feel. We can follow why what they do and it makes sense. Most of the time. Sometimes, without our intervention, the scene outside our window changes. One day a roadrunner ran halfway past my view, stopped, looked behind and in a moment took off. In a few seconds a cat raced by. My story changed and the cat found itself as a part of my story. The stage outside my window changed and my story absorbed the action.

               I guess to quote myself:

You run to the window and the melody flies away.

You hold sad like crystal, delicate and savory
Pushing away the blue for the blues,
Feeling scorching heat from the sun
And not warmth.

You run to Fantasy Land

You are there in silence.

               And in that silence a world grows. In the silence of a familiar roofscape, Cooper envisioned the American forests of the 1700's, populated by the native peoples of the New World. He painted a portrait so real, but on a view canvas of the calm familiarity that surrounded him.

               This is my world. Not your creative world. You may need input. I have too much already. The internet with all of it’s built in diversions as easy as an alt/tab to run down a path to a land of e-mails and facebooks and news casts. This is my world. Not yours.

               I know the palm fronds and the shadows and a world can evolve.

               Well that takes care of the physical space. I said in my youth that age and family and responsibility were beginning to fill my world and color the outcome of the psychedelic experiences I journeyed on with peyote and LSD. I swore then that when the job was done, when the children were raised, when the finances were settled, only then would I again take advantage of the world created in my mind by the psychedelics. They would not create billboards of worry that would divert my attention from the journey I was meant to take.

               Those days are less than 8 years away. Maybe I am less than the 8 years away from my rooftop view of the rooftops of Paris.