When I am ….. completely myself, entirely alone… or during the night when I cannot sleep, it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly. Whence and how these ideas come I know not nor can I force them.
I thank you for visiting me and the Goddess this week while I was on vacation with my family up nort’. Again. It is just a wonderful reprise to the daily grind of politics, viruses, hoarder houses, and such.
Even though these weekends are stressful as far as running around with three kids and three dogs, they are fulfilling. At least until my energy runs out. What these getaways also do is refocus my being to things that really matter in life.
But then you come home, kids go one way, you another. And there you are. Vibrating on the sofa, re-circling, refocusing, recharging and open like a toddler.
And you think — what now?
Who wants to go back to washing and folding laundry and doing dishes and mowing the lawn and sitting at a desk answering phones all day?
Who needs it?
If I have learned anything from this C19 nightmare is that most of us need it in one form or another. Kids need to get out of the house and go to school and see friends and stress over math assignments. Moms and dads need to get out of the house and go back to the office and deal with know-it-alls and office gossip and sales goals. Even retired grannies need to get out of the house and join community organizations that help people in one way or another and meet friends for coffee and get back to quilting or writing or whatever they do.
Sitting in the house day after day with nothing but the TV and radio is not good for the creative spirit.
I have written some of my best stories based on people I’ve worked with, places I’ve driven, conversations I’ve either overheard or had myself. The green trees and grass and wild fields around my house are beautiful, but after a while they lose their stimulation ability.
We need to be curious outside our parentheses. We can’t hide from the world and get settled in and do nothing. The world will keep changing but you will not. And one day visitors won’t be able to distinguish you from the beige flowered couch you sit upon.
After a while without people and places and things you find yourself with nothing to talk about. Grandkids can only tell you so many times about the fish that got away or how many hot dogs they ate one day. You can only talk about the old days so much before you finally become boring.
Without outside connections, without outside interactions, you really can turn into a slug. Even if you’re surrounded by grandkids and dogs.
If they aren’t stimulated by something new, neither will you be. If you can’t get out there and bring new and interesting things into their world they will turn out to be 8am-8pm internet slugs…. and so will you.
So, as much as I loved my time away, I am very happy to be back in my up and down world of the mind. I have projects to finish, projects to plan, projects to give up. And it’s only Monday!
Get on up and out today!
The Road Less Traveled
When does Imagination turn into Magic?
Who lives across the water
Down that path
In those woods
Who lives under that tree
Beyond that field
Among those clouds
The whispers of the Otherworld
Ask that question all the time
Turns Magic into Imagination
Their world lies
right beneath our feet
just out of sight
All we need to do
is look … and feel
Those are the words of imagination. Of exploration, of conquering new worlds. Of trying a new style of clothing, car, or food.
I suffer from a lot of What If. None of it destructive, mind you, although it does hit me when I’m driving to and from work a lot (it’s on an empty back road so don’t worry…I still pay attention..). What if I drove into the middle of that cornfield? What if I turned around and drove straight to the airport and bought a ticket to San Antonio? What if I looked up into the evening sky and saw a dragon flying across the horizon?
What If can be fun. They can be dangerous.
But they also can be illuminating.
What If takes you out of your comfort zone. Out of your self-conscious ego and self-damaging thoughts. It takes you to worlds where hobbits talk with faeries and American spies get thrown into Russian prisons. It makes apples purple and skin scarlet.
What If makes you think and daydream without getting hurt. What if there really was a zombie apocalypse? I mean what if zombies were trashing the city, town, closest to you? What would you do? Where would you go? What happens if zombies are everywhere? And you’re stuck in your house? How long would it take you to run out of food? Would you sacrifice your dog or cat so they would go away?
Or what if you were walking through the park on a summer evening and a gnome walked out of the bushes and stopped and looked at you on your path? Or if a faerie landed on your shoulder? I mean, really! What would you do? How would you react?
What If can obviously take you in dark places. What If you and your friend drove off the cliff like in Thelma and Louise? What if you drank a soda that turned out to be poison? What if you fell down the stairs and you weren’t near a phone and lived alone and no one ever came to visit you?
What Ifs are a creative person’s best friend. You can take funny, scary, wonderful thoughts and turn them into make believe. Like a painting. A painting of walking down the street of 1890’s Paris is all make believe. The painter never walked those streets, saw those streetlights, or said good evening to people walking past in hats and long dresses and suits.
But they did say…What If I were walking down the streets in 1890 Paris? What would I see? How would they be dressed? What would the stores look like?
I wrote two novels about What If. What If by some accident you woke up in 1880? You knew nothing about the times, the manners, the ambitions of the people you encounter. What would you do?
Keep those What Ifs going. Write them down, paint them, grow them. Let your imagination take you on a magic carpet ride.
Which leads to…what if there really was a magic carpet and you could sit and ride on it? Where would you go? Would it be windy? Could you fall off? Would you fly into birds and bugs and….
Everything is so bare. The trees, the field grass. I know its bubbling beneath the surface. It has more patience than me. Spring can’t be far if I hear the mourning dove’s song. Or the wikka wee of the red winged blackbird.
I have lived 64 years upon this Earth. I only hope for 64 more.
There is a convention going on in the trees across the field. The tweeting of the birds mix and meld into one gorgeous wake up call. It almost sounds as if they’re all in that one tall pine tree.
No sleep for a while, dear tree.
What was once a cornfield is now a young woods. It’s amazing how quickly Mother Nature takes back her own. It was her world first, anyway. I’m always looking for wildlife as I walk the trails around my house. The frogs don’t count. I do see tons of deer tracks in the mushy ground, though.
That’s a good sign.
No llamas next door today. I dare hope they weren’t sold for human consumption. The world is what it is, though. I’ll keep positive thoughts.
The trees have stayed smart. They’re not budding yet. Once the sun sets and rises, though, that may be a different story. Time moves so differently here. Oh dear — I was mistaken. Certain trees and/or bushes just can’t help themselves.
I don’t blame them.
Bright green moss grows on the trail. As the sun sets it’s almost fluorescent. I follow the glow. Bad storms have knocked many of the old trees over. It’s sad, really. Their once magnificent branches now are nothing more than barren tree trunks and limbs. Ahhh…but to have seen them in their glory! What tales they could tell! But they, like us, have no more tales to tell.
This walk is turning sad. That wasn’t the intent. The intent was to observe. To dream. To record. But sad is the other side of the coin called happy, isn’t it?
And so it is.
I found a golf ball on the farthest back trail. I can only imagine its story. But I shall not ask. I’ve come to a fork in the road. One trail edges the field, another meanders through the woods. Sparse the woods may be, but there is shadow here. Magic is afoot.
I must pay attention.
The coolness of the woods is different from the field. Dried leaves replace the moss. The trail challenges me to follow. I cannot resist. My stories are in here. The back end of my property rests upon a barbed wire fence, which separates me from the cornfield beyond. There is nothing now except stubby stalks. But when the corn is high and full…I wrote a story about a girl who walked through the rows of corn. Walked and walked until she came upon another world.
I need to finish that story.
My poor broken bench. Mildewed, still standing like a bent soldier. I dragged that bench back to the edge so I could sit and reflect the world I couldn’t see. The moments I needed to see. I shall fix that old bench.
There are dreams and stories I still need to see.
The thistled mess across from the bench will soon bloom thick and green. Impenetrable. Protecting its children from the madness of the outside world. And I think. I often wonder if I could just give it all up. The job. TV. The Internet. If I could just sit and write and walk and write and clean house and write. Or paint. Or draw. Listen to music and just be one with the seasons. Sleep when I’m tired, move when I’m awake. If I could leave it all behind.
I don’t think I want to know the answer.
The wind blows harder back here as it travels across the empty field. It reminds me that it’s barely spring. That Mother is up one day and down the next. The goosebumps on my arm make me agree. Up the leaf-covered path, I head towards the setting light.
A slain king blocks my way, On second thought, he is too skinny to be a king. His fate was more of the knightly variety. A victim of the storm too, his slender trunk arches enough for me to pass. The rustling of dead leaves hanging at the end of empty branches sing a light and hollow song. Even in the summer.
It’s like this back here.
Moss is a mighty thing. It peeks through the fallen leaves and clings to the fallen tree trunks. Yet it grows. Year after year. Surface after surface. A marvelous part of evolution. As I walk I see my sitting stone jutting out of the ground. In a month I will be hard pressed to find it. But the sun is setting and the chill is following. I nod in respect to the boulder of knowledge.
I will be back.
The setting sun is blinding me as I walk up the hill. It is as if it doesn’t want me to see where I’m going. Doesn’t it know. I never know where I’m going. I turn one last time, searching for a deer or a rabbit or a hawk or an elf.
I see none.
The storm made chaos out of these old woods. Branches are scattered and entwined at the end of the path. Perhaps if I were coming the other way I would see a barricade built by a dragon to keep humans out. At the end of the path on the right are several dirt mounds. Legend has it there was a house back here once, but I see no trace. But the mounds will soon be covered with daylilies.
Maybe that was the mother’s favorite flower.
Here lies the king. His huge trunk blocks the path. Right at the edge of the grass. Right at the edge of civilization. Part of me wants to let him rest here. He’s done his duty.
Rest in peace.
I’ve come to the end of the trail. Cultivated grass leads to a house. Inside is my computer, my music. My now. Perhaps my future. If I were to stay true to the path’s direction, I would find a whole other trail that would lead around and through the front of the property. I know the fae live there. A time warp, too.
But not today.
If I hold onto something for tomorrow, maybe I’ll never have to leave this world. For there will always be a tomorrow.
I can live believing that.
As we head into the “Last Vacation Weekend of the Summer”, I want to show off a couple of new Sunday Evening Galleries I’ve added recently. I have to admit the images are stunning, the artwork remarkable. Please go check them out if you get time!
See you on the other side of Reality!
I’m sure you all go through the ups and downs of life, the reality of which thickens or thins, depending upon your mood.
My kids and their kids have moved out, finding their own slice of paradise, finally free of bubbling-over grannies and know-it-all grandpas. We love our kids, and I know they love us. But it was time for the baby birds to fly, leaving behind a mix of sadness and relief. I can now go back to being the granny who makes root beer floats with her grandkids at 10 o’clock at night and dances in the summer rain and splashes in all the puddles and gets her grandkids full of mud. I know mom and dad’s expectations, and can now go back and dance around them whenever we get with the grandbabies.
I am sad my 5-year-old grandson isn’t here to play Unicorns and Dragons with me; he isn’t here to read Pete the Cat to or to watch the Lego Movie for the 30th time. Part of my youth has moved out with him.
But I’m also relieved that I can come home from a hard day at work and chill and write and watch TV and watch scary movies or bloody movies. That I don’t have to get up at 2 a.m. with grandbaby #2 or figure a way to entertain him for more than a few hours.
There is a reason 63-year-olds aren’t first-time parents.
But back to the strange combinations.
Like pickles and ice cream, wants and needs are often at odds in my little world. I suffer from insomnia, and it sometimes affects my day job. Having said that, now that the kids are gone I can go to bed (even though I can’t sleep) at an early hour and practice the routines that everyone has insisted bring on sleep.
We’ll see about that.
For the kids’ moving out is just at the wee-beginnings of Spring, fostering a yearning for something new and fresh in my life. The birds and their melodies, the frogs in the ponds, the breeze through the pine trees, all are promising me the beginnings of yet another wonderful year. A year full of confusion, joy, laughter….and writing.
With all the promises the Spring Cleaning Lady offers, I need to do some Spring Cleaning of my own. To stop being a slug when it comes to moving forward to the higher aspirations of things like getting published. Or increasing my readership.
Do you feel the turn of the tide when the seasons change?
The onset of autumn, or winter, both with their silent and sparkling worlds; summer, hot and sticky and full of jazzy clothes and music; burrowing in or digging out.
I need to listen to my Muse. She’s bugging me to leave the two novels I cherish behind and get into something fresh and new. And she is right. I love the things I have written, but they are of a different tint, and the Spring seems to nudge me towards something fresh and exciting. I am thinking about new worlds, alternate worlds, mystery and fantasy in this world.
Which leads me back to the insomnia.
This is where the paths cross — crisscross — back and forth. The excitement of writing something new, of research and experimentation and new characters, are at direct odds with my erratic sleeping schedule.
I am a firm believer that YOU CAN’T WRITE ANYTHING FRESH IF YOU ARE STALE.
If you struggle during the day to stay awake, your faux burst of energy at night won’t take you far. If your moods swing like a tire swing, you won’t be able to stay on task very long. If you are pushing yourself to the limit, you won’t have much left in you for romance or adventure.
And your characters will suffer.
Writing can be methodical. Writing can be spontaneous. Writing can come crawling in the front door or spring out on the patio. Inspiration, too, ebbs and flows. Just like our bodies.
Learn to work with the swings of your own psyche. Don’t push it when you know you can’t. Feel the glow when you can. Find time to dance in the inspiration of your own words. But get enough rest first.
For there’s nothing worse than your character falling down…and they can’t get up.
Dear me — I’m transforming — again. I have been bitten by the Paris bug.
I have wandered down many a reincarnation in my short 62-year life. As I have said in other blogs, I went through a Renaissance period in my 30s; shields and maiden dresses and unicorn tapestries. There was a cool working-downtown-Chicago phase when I was really young; I was never cool nor chic enough to keep up with the bubbles downtown, but it was fun pretending while it lasted.
Now I’m on the French train.
I am thinking of changing my writing name to either Claudette or Colette or Jacqui; my short term/long term memory is shot, so I can’t really learn French, but I know enough to eat (who doesn’t know Coq au vin or baguettes or Éclairs?) I have watched Midnight in Paris a hundred times, ordered Hemmingway’s Moveable Feast, and Colette’s Gigi; and signed up for a couple of French accounts (Haven in Paris on Twitter, Tongue in Cheek in email).
My BoHo Chic wardrobe-in-progress will fit splendidly on my pretend-jaunts through the French countryside, along with the pretend-designer purses I pick up at Good Will for my jaunts into Paris Proper. I have glanced at what basics a French Madame needs (flats, cars, cardigan, boots). Well, still working on that.
What is it twith this L’influence française?
It must be my never-ending desire to role play. To know who I am and who I can pretend to be. Who cares? I never did much dress up as a kid; my body was never conducive to mini skirts or leggings or stilettos. But my imagination has always played the boundaries. And the older I get, the more I can’t help but push.
This newly found love of Paris in the rain and wine tasting at La Cloche des Halles and spending the day at Versailles are all pipe dreams I’ll never really live. Kids, grandkids, work, car repairs, second mortgages, school loans, all take a toll on my very small pocket-book.
But then again, I probably will never wander through the lavender fields in England or the Moors in Scotland or the castles in Germany. But through adult-style role playing, I can write and draw and cook and pretend any time I want.
We all grow up too fast. Watching my 5-year-old grandson pretend to be Ironman or a farmer, he finds all the pleasure without the consciousness of pain and labor and broken dreams. They are happy in their own world, happy that you’re in it, too. That’s the state of mind I want to get back to.
People are so cynical these days. Creativity Creates Chaos. If you don’t look and act your age and status, you’re an easy target for rdicule and repremands.
Well, I say — lighten up.
Am I going to raise children through adverse poverty like in Les Miserables? Am I going to drive around aimlessly in the pouring rain singing La Vie En Rose? Am I going to spend an entire paycheck on some overpriced French perfume?
I think not.
Maybe I love getting lost in someone/someplace else because I have an idea for a story about two people who meet at a French bistro one evening and, for one night, find their soulmate. Or maybe I want to write a poem about the remarkable River Seine. Or maybe I want to sketch an op art picture of the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile.
I once wrote a story about a girl who ate lunch at an outdoor cafe, and drifted off to an encounter with a guitarrista in Mexico. I wrote another about a time out of time, a touch of midieval. One of my novels takes place in a displaced Eturia (Rome). I dove into each of those worlds with both feet. I researched ancient Roman cultures, Mexican hideaways, and King Arthur’s realm. And I think it helped make my worlds real.
I want to play with my characters. Feel what they feel. Live in their world. I want to tell their story. And if I get lost in a little pot au feu or astralology or Romans in space, so what?
Use your imagination to be whomever you want to be. You know where your core is — you’ll never get lost. You can come home to your warm bed and IPad and cable TV any time you want.
But in the meantime…(clears throat…)
Il me parle tout bas
Je vois la vie en rose…..
I know this doesn’t apply to my readers, but get the message out:
DON’T HURT ANY BLACK CATS THIS HALLOWEEN! IF YOU KNOW OF SOMEONE PLANNING SOMETHING NASTY, CALL THE POLICE!! THERE ARE NO SUCH THINGS AS CATS TURNING INTO WITCHES AND VICE VERSA. Cats can’t help the color of their fur, no more than people their skin.
Now that that’s over…
All Hallow’s Eve.
That magical time of the year that embraces too much candy, Midwest rain, and follow-up visits to the dentist. How can you not love a day like that?
According to http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween, Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death.
Okay, I see where the death part comes in. Cold weather, not much fire, working in the fields 18 hours a day — not a happy recipe for long life.
But then empty heads turned to black cats and witches and things they couldn’t explain. Black cats used to rule. They were held in high esteem in early Egyptian times, dating back as far as 3000 BC. I mean, who doesn’t know Bastet?
It wasn’t until the middle-ages in Europe that the black cat’s rock star status started to go downhill as they began to be associated with so-called witches. The hysteria of witches practicing black magic had just hit Europe and alley cats were often cared for and fed by the poor lonely old ladies (funny how some things never change) later accused of witchery.
So all this nonsense of sacrificing black cats and dark magic and hibbery jibbery came from the fear of cat ladies. Can you imagine? Imagination is one thing, nonsense is another.
I say let’s take this ghostly, spooky, totally Americanized holiday and bring it back to its ancient roots in Egypt. You don’t have to like cats to respect them. Worship you cat. At least let him sit and type with you on your laptop. Embrace the millennium in which you exist and embrace life. Get rid of the fear of the hokus pokus associated with this really delightful celebration of candy and pumpkin pie and the Monster Mash. And knock the nonsense out of anyone who says different.
They say the border between worlds is thinnest at Samhain. I’m going to go out and check the communication between worlds tomorrow night. Who knows? Maybe my mom will stop by. Or dad. Or my dog Rennie. Maybe I can catch up on the gossip from the other side. Who’s hanging with who. Who’s doing the Irish Jig on the table and who’s sleeping under it. Who’s got the best bonies in the neighborhood. Which cat is hangin’ with which dog.
There’s always a story somewhere. Whether you’re looking for it or not, it’s there, waiting for you. Find one this Halloween. Write it. Live it. Sing it.
Who knows — maybe your black cat will sing with you!
Things have certainly changed since Boris Karloff chugged along as Frankenstein. These days readers and movie goers have seen just about everything there is to see in the blood and guts world. I mean, most of what is considered “horror” is really more “disgust.” How much you can do to the human body and still let them live. Even when the story is clever, there’s nothing about losing limbs and buckets of blood that make those little hairs on your head stand up.
Writing horror isn’t easy. It’s not easy to twist plots and rattle windows and whisper in someone’s ear and have them be truly frightened. Portraying that same creepy feeling on film is not easy, either. I get it. But the more we grow spiritiually, emotionally, and psychologically, the more it takes to catch us off guard.
My son gets Netflix, so I decided to take a ride down the horror road and see what I could see. Half of the movies I’ve seen, half I have no interest in. Maybe it’s being older, but just because someone has pins in his head doesn’t make someone scary. Yet, the way Hellraiser talked, the way he held himself, the way he slowly pried his way into the lives of the unsuspecting — now that was pretty creepy. It turned pretty bloody/gutsy, but the earlier ones threatened more and showed less. I tried one from France: some kids climbing over a locked gate and mountain climbing into the horror pit where some hillbilly wacko lived. (Teenagers are always so dumb.)
I’ve tried old ones (The Scream series), I’ve tried new ones (The Walking Dead). I’ve tried ghosts, monsters, psychos, and snakes. Some make it to kinda creepy, others are just d-u-m-b. The Saw series is nothing but bloody psychological terror, one fingernail at a time. But it’s not horror.
Back in the day, movies like Psycho and Halloween brought “real life” horror into the realm of the everyday. The Exorcist and Night of the Living Dead put normal people in abnormal — and often deadly — situations. Alien and The Thing took those same situations and put them in outer space or in the future. Devil possession, zombies, psychos in masks — how can you deal with those?
But as the years passed, what was once novelty became remakes, each one more technically savvy but emotionally empty. By the time Halloween VI or Alien Resurrection came along, nothing was new. We’d been there, done that. Only the stars had changed. And the ability to frighten us.
So what kind of movies twinkle my creepy twinkie?
It’s obvious that humankind wants to be frightened now and then. Controlled frightened. Like frightened for the length of a movie only. The Grudge was pretty scary, with dead bodies scurring across the ceiling and up the stairs. The first couple Aliens were pretty scary, even though by the second one we knew the formula (pick off people one by one). Even though my husband and kids disagree by miles, I loved Cabin in the Woods, because it brought all possible endings and villians to the end. I’m hooked on The Walking Dead — I mean, sheriff driving around, looking at overturned trucks and abandoned cars, wondering what’s up, and the next thing you know — Armageddeon! How can you not be creeped out by that?
I loved the old “The Haunting“, and pffffted the remake. I wasn’t scared by windows turning into eyes and canopy beds coming down to squish the heroine — I loved the old black and white because you couldn’t see the adversary. Who can forget the lion’s head doorknob turning evvver-soooo-slooowly? Or the banging and breathing of the bedroom door? You never once saw a bloody hand or face or someone’s entrails spilled on the floor. It was your imagination that frightened you.
And that, I think, is the heart of anything scary. The victims on the screen have to be you, but not you. To be tortured would be cruel beyond imagination. To have a child see dead people everywhere — that’s another story. To be able to capture your imagination and be three steps ahead of it is the true heart of a scary story. To not be able to tell what is real and what isn’t — that’s the stuff nightmares are made of. Movie or not.
So tell me — have you seen any good scary movies lately?
One sign of getting older is that I seem to notice things I’ve never noticed before. I don’t know if it’s just swishing around past my prime, or rather just starting out in my prime, but I smell things no one else smells, hear things no one else hears, and notice actors and actresses being recycled through the years from one movie to another.
I love escapism. I don’t get to watch TV or movies as often as I’d like, as work and writing and yelling at the dogs takes up a lot of my time. But I find I wonder “how do they do that?” more often than not. And I’ll be the first to tell you that I am amazed at special effects. My simple brain cannot wrap around the fact that city landscapes and alien spaceships and Roman cities are nothing more than 1’s and 0’s running through a computer. I can’t even begin to understand how they made the German’s face melt in Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark; Transformers destroying the city (and each other); Inception, where people run on ceilings and curl cityscapes back on themselves. King Kong. Toy Story. Avatar. The list goes on.
Special effects, computer generated imagery. Galaxies and Mordor and everything inbetween. And none of it is real. Yet one can’t help but get sucked into those worlds as if we really stepped through the magic portal. Our minds quit trying to figure out what’s real and what’s fake and just get lost in someone else’s creativity.
Even more mind-blowing is that the same part of the anatomy that everyone has — even me — is where it all comes from. One’s mind. Which resides in one’s brain. Which we all have (but not all use…ah…a blog for another day).
So it is with any step into creativity. We have all gotten lost in a good book, holding our breath as we turn the pages. We have all looked at a painting or a sculpture and marveled at its simplicity or complexity. Some are able to take the next step in their creative career — go to school, get published, get a job at Industrial Light and Magic. Some turn their love of acting into dinner theater or Broadway, or their skill at playing a guitar or piano into symphony orchestras or rock bands.
So why is it, if we all have the same equipment, we don’t understand the same thing? Why is it so hard for some of us and a piece of cake to others? I can barely do basic Math, yet accountants and computer designers see numbers as easily as seeing the sun. Mankind creates the most amazing, breathtaking, impossible things — all with that one little tool in their skull.
The “whys” of why some people develop the gift and others don’t I will leave to philosophy and a glass of wine. The point is, we ALL have the ability to use that hunk of grey matter to open those magic portals. Some can’t wait for their free time to jump into their next creative project; others see creativity as a waste of time.
Maybe it’s just that the same plug that plugs into the outlet of special effects is on a wall of infinite outlets that lead to infinite destinations. Maybe it’s just the luck of the draw that one plug leads to quantum physics and one to insanity. One to painting and one to crayons. We are all plugged in to different outlets. We can’t change where we are plugged in, but we CAN choose to follow the path of electricity to outlet boxes scattered all over the universe.
Working with the material inside the brain box is a lot of work. Some just catch on faster than others. But when you find that junction box where creativity makes you feel good, you want to stay plugged in. Some may be taken back by the jolt that comes now and then from creative satisfaction, while others find it a natural high they want to come back to again and again.
I don’t know where all this deep philosophy came from this fine morning, but I do know one thing — don’t give up. Make time. Let yourself be. Let it flow. And know you can come back to this feeling any time.
Whew … and to think … I had this cosmic burst before I had my morning coffee!
I’m forever blowing bubbles
Pretty bubbles in the air
They fly so high, nearly reach the sky
Then like my dreams they fade and die
When you look at a bubble, what do you see? Do they reflect reality? They are ethereal. Like a thought. A kiss. A memory.
They exist for only a moment. Yet resonate in our memory long after.
They make us wonder: What did I just see?
The possibilities are endless. You ask — is it real? Does it matter?
Are they reflections of our existence? A moment out of a million? A billion? Out of a nanosecond?
It doesn’t matter if their existence makes a difference in the world. A difference in my life, or yours. All that matters is they are beautiful. Fleeting. They float on air. And for the briefest of moments, they exist.
As do we.
The older I get (I never get tired of saying that!), the more I am taking time to discover corners of the world that I’ve never seen before. Now, that statement is all encompassing, all omnipotent. Yet for me, it’s very simple. I can only explore one line of extraordinary at a time. There is fantastic scenery, scrumptious foods, unusual land formations and mystical forms to be discovered.
For me, it is Unique Art.
What does that mean?
There are thousands of fantastic images floating around the Internet. Blogs and websites dedicated to all branches of the hallowed world of sculpture, photography, painting, sketching. I couldn’t possibly visit, showcase, and recommend all the beauty that exists outside my middle-aged sphere.
So I have decided that once a week I will showcase creativity that stands outside of reality. Outside the every day. Now, everything can fit into those parameters. So I hope to show you images you’ve never seen or imagined or saw somewhere on Facebook and let pass. Some will have links to websites; others will just be visions that have passed my way. I will honor the sites I borrow the visions from, and I do hope you take a few minutes to visit their homeworld.
If you’ve come across any unique worlds, let me know. Let’s make our next 20 years as out-of-the-box as we can make it!
And if any of my wanders tickle your fancy, let me know that, too. For I’d love to have company along the way….
I’m always a television season or six behind the rest of the world, but when I do catch up I find the wildest, greatest stuff. Only last week I recorded the latest season (Season 6) of Face Off. It’s a wonderful little show on SciFi TV that showcases another one of the “Arts”.
According to the IMDB, Face Off is a competition/elimination series exploring the world of special-effects make-up artists and the unlimited imagination which allows them to create amazing works of living art.
Now, I’ve been a fan of shows that highlight personal creativity for years. Take cooking shows. The Iron Chef Japan was one of my earliest introductions into the exquisite beauty of food. Food as Art, as they say. Today’s contestants on Iron Chef America, Master Chef, and even Chopped, create these masterpieces that leave your jaw extended and your mouth open like a bass. I always find myself saying, “Oh…I could do that…couldn’t I?” Or “What didn’t I think of that?” Knowing darn well that I’d need a Master Kitchen, unlimited budget, a plethora of cookbooks and magazines, and a budget the size of a Presidential Dinner just to be clever on the plate.
Face Off is the “Master Chef” of sculpturing, molding, and painting. These contestants do things I only dream of. Each week they are assigned a different “creation”: dragons, wizards, robots. They have to come up with their own design, then use a warehouse full of props, materials, and models to create pieces that would easily fit in any blockbuster movie.
The most amazing part of this show – aside from the raw talent and imagination – is that these are (to my way of living) KIDS! They are 24. 26. 31. There was an oldie at 41. I can hardly remember what I was DOING at 27 – getting married, I think – but it certainly wasn’t creating magic like this, that’s for sure. They have cherry-colored hair and sticky up hair and mustaches and yellow Mohawks. They look like the guy next door or the girl from Planet 9. But they all share the love of creativity, something that runs through all of us.
I am just in awe of anyone who has such phenomenal talent to be able to create something from nothing but their imagination. I happen to be a proponent of writing, but there are so many other artistic expressions out there that I am often in that jaw dropping/bass-mouthed state of being.
I encourage you to constantly take a fresh look at the world around you. There are so many beautiful self expressions out there — in words, in sculpture, in jewelry. Encourage everyone who has even an inkling to be artistic to do so. Whether it’s your grandbaby, your girlfriend, or your grandfather. Get them out there and get them to embrace their artsyness.
You will find it’s a rewarding feeling on both sides. And who knows what magic will blossom along the way?
all images courtesy of Face Off and the SciFi Channel
Whatever February 18th is, this is the day.
On my way to work, the translucent, waxing gibbous moon winked at me.
I checked my horoscope. Scopes. (1) Move forward with confidence; there is support behind you. (2) No creative projects today. Might have mental blocks. Put projects aside for later when you have clear mind. (3) Take control of things that might slow you down. Learn about yourself. Understand those around you. I figure if I throw all three in a bowl and stir, a positive, move forward message will float to the top.
I checked my online one-card tarot. Knight of Wands. Essence of fire. Filled with passion for life. Absolute sincerity. Daring. Sexy. Exciting. Boundless creativity. I’ll take that one. My phone tarot slipped me a different card. Nine of Wands. Wisdom and strength through experience. Learn through personal experience. Well, after what I’ve been through the past through years, this could just as well been the Piece of Cakes.
My Chinese horoscope. The Dragon. I may be experiencing an unusual wave of doubt or confusion today. It could be hard to make a choice between multiple options today. Well, no worry. I don’t have multiple choices today. One choice. One direction.
Time to water and fertilize that creativity seed that I planted in my head somewhere last fall. I can tell you, there hasn’t been much growth this winter. Death, unemployment, sick cats and bad weather have put a hold on my energy and my creative spirit. But no more. Water that puppy and get it barking! I can’t sit around and wait until Spring to correct this or add to that. Life is flying by as it is. And my calendar is filling up.
I wrote a blog at Retirement and Good Living called Planning Ahead (http://retirementandgoodliving.com/planning-ahead/). It’s all about writing things down ahead of time. Your life is zooming past the way it is; it doesn’t hurt to plan some things ahead and write them down on a calendar. Now, I don’t necessarily write my writing goals on a calendar. But I belong to an email list that gives me oddles of contests that I can enter, and another one that tells me about places that pay for writing. So it might help if I schedule some of those cash cows on my calendar, too.
The e-mail address addy for contests (free and fee) is firstname.lastname@example.org .
The little-more-professional outlets for writing comes from Freedom With Writing http://www.freedomwithwriting.com .
So the planets are in alignment and for better or worse my horoscopes are in alignment too. (I’ll just jam them into line). I am ready to start reaping what I’ve sown in my head.
Better that than the nonsense that grows there already.
I subscribe to a few blogs where the author has broken out of their silent shell, finally finding a voice that is sparkling and true. It’s not easy sharing something as personal as one’s self ― especially if that “self” has been suppressed for longer than one can imagine. I appreciate their efforts to finally let the world know who they are.
I, on the other hand, suffer from Italktoomuchitis.
da da da thump…
Don’t wanna write ‘cuz there’s no light…
da a da thump…
Don’t wanna sing or work on my bling…
da a da thump…
Don’t wanna jog in my new tennis shoes…
(Loud and bluesy)
Don’t wanna do nuthin’ cuz I got the blues….
I’ve got the (loud) no-sunshine, no-energy, don’t give a whack ‘bout nuthin’ wintery bluuuueeesss..
One day I was sitting at my desk at work, green computer screen glowing, honky-tonk music spurting out from a speaker not far above my head, trying to concentrate on a long list of numbers that needed to be entered into the computer, glancing at pages waiting to be proofread and images to be downloaded, when a word drifted across my consciousness – Feng Shui.
In the mundane throng of your very predictable life, don’t you now and then want to just break out of the box and do something different? Now that you have the experience of all those years behind you, don’t you want to make that experience mean something? Don’t you ever want to be bigger than life? Just for a day?
When not being busy as a Goddess Gypsy Irish/Polish Writing Queen (I’m not really sure what that is…), I also spend 40 hours a week working on catalogs. I enter data, order images and copy, and proofread everything from the original description to the final glossy prepress page. One of my catalogs is dedicated to health care. Besides pages being filled with replicas of every body part (inside or outside) you can imagine, I also come across some extraordinary vocabulary.
Quick. Name a handful of your favorite movies. Not the “great” ones that are in your library ― the ones that define you. The ones you don’t admit entertain you time and time again. Are you what you watch? Are you big enough to admit that you are what you watch?
So many things make us happy; so many things make us sad. So many times we wished we had turned left instead of right; so many times we are soooo glad we did turn right instead of left. Sometimes I get really sad that I’m soon going to turn 60 — where has my life gone? Other times I look back and am sorry my mother never made 54. I’m sad that I had breast cancer; other times I’m so glad they found it when they did.
Life is packed with highs and lows, yellow and blacks, snow and scorching heat. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what it’s always been about. For us, for our grandparents, for George Washington and Kublai Khan and St. Joseph. I’m sure they all had a hundred things they wanted to do at one time, too. Just like us. We all want to be appreciated for what we’ve done. What we’ve become. We all would like to think that our time here on Earth has been for the Greater Good.
This is not a confessional blog; this isn’t a tell-all or a bad news bomb. I’m sitting on my sofa this cold Sunday afternoon, looking at the bare treetops in my front yard. Of course, you know me — I’m also watching football, eating lunch, doing laundry, getting ready to write some in my latest novel, wondering what I’m gonna wear to work tomorrow. I’m also thinking about the fun I had with my grandbaby this weekend, thinking of taking some drugs for my achy legs, and feeling guilty I haven’t played fetchie with my dog today.
That’s really what this blog is about. Sometimes I feel I should be pushing this blog harder, trying to share the Word with more readers. Other times I think I’ve run this horse to the finish line, and should start a new creative venture. Yet more often I think I’ve let my writing simmer on the back burner for so long it’s started to dry up and stick to the pan.
How do you know if you’ve succeeded at what you tried to do? What is the measure of success? Big paychecks often are an indicator; good health, always. Waking up every morning is a success all on its own. Family? Kids? Making the perfect apple pie? All of the above are successes if never done it before. Success has always been measured from the heart first, from the masses second. And often it takes on a meaning more cosmic than one thinks. I think I make the best spaghetti sauce this side of the Mississippi. If you don’t agree, does that mean it’s not good? Of course not. All it means is that I can eat it all myself.
Writing is the same thing for me. What is being a successful writer? Have I ever been published? A short story here or there in the past 10 years. Have I won awards for my creativity? No. Have I ever I gotten a call or email from a publisher? No. Do I think I’m a successful writer? Yes. Definitely. I’ve had people say positive things about my stories; I’ve brought smiles and tears to readers. I’ve written 4 novels, 1 novella, 32 short stories, 42 poems, 84 blogs, and 3 novels in-progress. I think that’s being successful. Why? Because Ive continued to do what I love, no matter what the result. I’ve had fun making friends, creating worlds, and trying things that make me uncomfortable. I encouraged people to believe in themselves, given life to middle-age heroines, and never killed off the main character.
There are still so many paths to follow, worlds to explore. And that’s only after I play with my grandbaby, fetch my dogs, pet my cats, cuddle my husband, go to work 40 hours a week, clean my house, grocery shop, get together with family and/or friends, and dozens of other responsibilities. Life has only so many hours, and I’m still struggling on squeezing a few more out of every week.
So what this all boils down to is that I’ve driven the Humoring the Goddess train long enough. Hopefully I’ve encouraged you to believe in yourself, have fun with your life, and laugh as much as you can. There are so many things you can’t change, so why not toss your hands up and laugh and move on? You’ll know the things you CAN change..that little voice in your heart/head/soul is always there to remind you. Your job is to listen.
I have enjoyed entertaining you all these years more than you know. I have learned so much from you. I might try another blog, or finish one of my novels, or sit and spew poetry until I feel nauseated. I’m sure I’ll be back and visit sometime. If I start something new I’ll post it. I will look foward to hearing from you and YOUR projects. You will always find me at my email world… email@example.com.
There is always a path ahead of you. Always. It’s up to you which one you take, or how often you turn left or right. In the end, none of that matters — the only thing that matters is that you keep walking.
Keep Humoring the Goddess…and Loving your Life…
Need to find a little magic in your everyday life? There’s got to be a way to connect today’s mad, mad world to the airy fairy contentment daydreaming brings. What is “magic” anyway? It’s just a word. A word that describes what can’t always be described. Kinda like love or intuition or Coan Brothers movies. It’s different for everyone. Here’s a few ways to tap into the mist (or is it the fog) that surrounds the charisma called “magic”:
ETHER. The concept of the Ether (guess we need to capitalize it) is that magic exists in the natural world like air. Anyone with sufficient understanding can process it into whatever it is he or she is trying to do. It’s also referred to as the fifth element (mool-ti-pass?) along with earth, air, water and fire. Ever catch the scent of pine trees in the air? Burning leaves? Pig farms? All of those stimulate the Ether. All trigger the senses, taking them to another level. Learn to feel hot and cold pockets of air, watch the heat waves rise from the road, or feel the breeze blow your hair around. A heebie jeebie feeling will run through you, leaving you mystified or merely curious. One hint: don’t search for the Ether while driving, starting a bonfire or any other activity that needs your attention. You just might find yourself breathing more than just Ethered air.
HERBS. Certain herbs are said to have magical properties (no…not the ones you smoke). There are plenty of “healthy” naturalities that can open the stuck door to your magical playground. Sage is commonly used for purification and cleansing (see what it does for stuffing?). Catnip is meant to captivate a lover ― or at least a cat. Cinnamon increases psychic power (no wonder we sense cinnamon toast a mile away!). Basil is for wealth and prosperity (I could use a whole back yard of this). I added my own herby kind of things to the magical list: chocolate (who isn’t taken in by its charm?), wine (loosens up the tongue to speak to whatever higher power is hanging around), and homemade spaghetti sauce (I swoon to heaven and back when I eat it). Whatever herb makes you smile is the one that’s magical for you. Go for it.
OBJECTS: Throughout time there have been objects that have been sought for their ability to do things that no human can do on their own. The Philosopher’s Stone (turns base metals into gold), The Holy Grail (drinking from it grants immortality), the Pot of Gold (pretty obvious what it does), and Book of Thoth (a forbidden book that was the key to mastering the secrets of air, sea, earth, and the heavenly bodies), all are legendary objects that have the capability to make humans larger than life. Today’s magical objects are a lot more accessible to us lowly humans. The Internet (instant information), CDs (the gospel of Pink Floyd and Benny Goodman were never so available), telephones (or should I now say cell phones), beer steins (symbols of the fruitfulness of grain), gold coins (back to the source of all evil), and dozens of other things can instantly turn our world from mundane to magical. Also consider flags, beer bottle tops, crystals, rock band T-shirts, root beer floats, chocolate truffles, Christmas ornaments (I have some cool Irish ones), and 4H ribbons, are all magical objects (in their own way)..
CREATURES. Creatures are not often considered fountains for magical energy. However, some are well known for their connection to the magical world. Unicorns, dragons, faeries, Nessie, Bigfoot, Pan, Puck, angels, brownies (not the edible kind), ghosts, Puff ― all are creatures that will stimulate your imagination and tap into the wonder of it all. What does it matter if they were/are real or not? Are you real? How do we know? In a pinch, puppies, kittens, and babies are suitable substitutes.
PLACES. Places where magic concentrates have dotted the cosmic landscape for a long time. The Fountain of Youth, Atlantis, Never Never Land, Oz, Heaven, Shangri La, Rivendell, Sha Ka Ree, all are places that sprung from the human mind and exist on some plane of existence somewhere. Magic blows the dirt of these worlds into our own back yards. Utopia may not exist in our sphere of reality, but why can’t it exist elsewhere? Why can’t we tap into these magical places and pick up a few tips? I know I could get into a dishwashingless or rakingtheleavesless society. And heck ― Klingons and Elves don’t hold a candle to the nuts we experience in our everyday world. Even our messy home can be an alien environment at times. What inspiration!
DIVINE MAGIC. At the opposing end of the spectrum from Ether is the idea that magic can only be handed down from some divine or infernal source. Granted through either prayers or rituals, this type of magic requires a force from the outside of the normal/natural world coming to bear on a situation. Gods, goddesses, aliens, demons, magicians, angels, spirit guides, and totems come to mind. Their intervention comes in handy during football games, pregnancy tests, lottery tickets, cooking competitions, and IRS audits. Although whether they wave their energy over the Packers or the Bears remains to be seen.
Be that as it may, I hope you understand that real divine magic exists within us all. It’s called common sense. It’s called love. Let those two energies guide all you think and do, and magic will be at your fingertips. Trust me on this one. Don’t be afraid to use the “M” word when describing your philosophy of life. It melds well with the “G” word and the “L” word, sprinkling a bit of sweetness on our basic beliefs and desires.
And, after all ― it does kinda tastes like sugar…
A while back I wrote a story about two of my favorite movies: Chocolat and Under the Tuscan Sun. https://humoringthegoddess.com/2011/04/28/chocolat-under-the-tuscan-sun/. It was an irreverent observation of the main characters (thin, lovely 30ish beauties) and their ability to start new lives in quaint surroundings filled with friendly neighbors, gorgeous scenery, and hunky men. There was drama, of course; some sort of “obstacle” the main character had to overcome. But it was artistically woven into the background, and it left me with a positive attitude about life after 30.
I just finished watching Tuscan again, and I find a little uneasiness creeping into my positive attitude. While I know that movies and fiction books and television are all pretend, I wonder why so many of us are drawn to such escapism. I mean, flying spaceships through outer space or sitting at the other end of the table from Henry the Eighth are out-and-out fantasies, not available in this (or any) lifetime. But modern-day escapism is a lot easier to imagine.
It’s not that I want to leave what I have behind (although the thought of never having to change the kitty litter again does sound enticing); it’s more the attitude of pretend that seems to strengthen me. I spend most of my waking hours trying to deal with life. Some of my friends are planning early retirement, others planning to have kids, some trying to get out of bad jobs, and still others taking second jobs to make ends meet. I have lost parents and friends to the Reaper, and sat besides others who have cheated him one more time. I can see how the world is unfair, unyielding, and unacceptable. So I can see how a happily-ever-after movie ending rates right up there with dark chocolate and the 1812 Overture.
But after watching my favorite movies for the umpteenth time, I see my creativity being put to the test. I don’t confuse fake gazebos that overlook vineyards with the pot of geraniums on my back porch; I don’t think making homemade chocolate would be any more rewarding than making homemade spaghetti sauce. I know I will never look like Diane Lane or Juliette Binoche — too many babies and too many cookies and too much menopause has taken care of that. But that doesn’t mean I can’t follow my own Yellow Brick Road now and then.
Moviemakers are dream makers in the ultimate sense. Not only do they manipulate scenery into idyllic settings and everyday conversation into romantic poetry, but take us just where we think we want to go. As the observer, we never see the cameramen, construction workers, caterers, painters and all the other thousands of people who make our trip to la la land possible. We never see the accounts payable clerk at her desk, the plumber fixing the waterfall, the cleaning service scrubbing the toilets or the mountain of programming needed to make a glass of champagne bubble someone’s name.
And we don’t want to see it. We don’t want to see the mess the cleaning crew has after a day’s shooting; we don’t want to be reminded of the endless peanut butter sandwiches the street sweepers and lighting technicians had to eat just to stay on the production company’s payroll. Why? We don’t want to see the behind-the-scenes efforts because they remind us so much of our own daily life. If we were to watch the women wash the floors of the Italian bungalow, we would be reminded that our own kitchen floor needs scrubbing. If we were to watch the crews paint the set to look like old world France it only reminds us that our house could use a fresh coat of paint. If we were to know that all the food on the banquet table were fake except for what the actors were eating, it would bring home the fact that some of the food we bring home from the grocery store tastes pretty fake, too.
Is that all bad? Not really. As we get older we find that reality distorts a lot of things. The length of the rope seems to be longer behind us than in front of us. We know that today could be our last chance to drink a glass of wine or hug our kids or listen to Louie sing What A Wonderful World. If we keep on track and bring light into our lives, we can make the length of the rope in front of us infinite. And how do we do that? We make our own version of pretend.
As I said before, a pot full of geraniums can be just as rewarding as the French countryside, be it in a different form. A piece of Hershey’s chocolate sitting on a fancy plate from Good Will can be just as alluring as an exclusive delicacy served in a five star restaurant in Italy. Toga parties can mimic ancient Rome (or Animal House), and calling the gang over for game night can rival any three-dimensional chess game Spock and Kirk could play. We just have to understand that reality is all in one’s point of view.
I am learning not to take the movies seriously. Not that I ever did, but there were times I was genuinely tempted to build a greenhouse like the one in Practical Magic or rent an atmospheric cottage in rural Scotland to write my breakout novel like Demi Moore in Half Light. The point is, don’t let pretend pass you by. Just know it for what it is, respect its limitations, and let it fly in and around and through your life.
Besides — if a librarian can travel to Egypt and discover mummies and telephone repairmen can have close encounters of the third kind, there’s no telling where a wife/mother/grandmother can go.
Want to come along?
With the Madness of Summer burning the bottoms of our feet, there is not often much time to do any deep reading. A news headline here, a gossip column there, is about all one can squeeze in between State Fairs and Renaissance Faires and Italian Fairs. So I thought I’d make it short and sweet this time around…come along and check out some of my oldies-but-goodies and see for yourself how fun managing the madness and magic and middle age can be!
Sharpening the Tool — https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/sharpening-the-tool/
I hate it when people say that many middle-aged people “aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed.” It’s condescending, insulting, naive and just plain wrong. What I hate even more, though, is being one of those dull tools. Alas, there are times when I feel I’m struggling to stay in the shed, period.
Dancing in a Too Tight Tutu — https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/522/
I was sitting around the other day with my gal friends, sharing tales about the weekend. We all seemed to have gone through the same delightful experience, albeit in different ways. We all were relaxed, having a good time, and probably drank a little too much, for we all said, “I’m too old for this.” One sat with friends and sipped with friends all day, one went to an outdoor concert, and I party hopped. I’m sure the situations were on the same astral plane as many others “my age.” Time flows, excitement and comfort wraps around us, the atmosphere make us feel good, and before you know it we are waking up the next morning with a headache, saying, “I’m too old for this.
Dinner With the Queen — https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/dinner-with-the-queen/
In the mundane throng of your very predictable life, don’t you now and then want to just break out of the box and do something different? Now that you have the experience of all those years behind you, don’t you want to make that experience mean something? Don’t you ever want to be bigger than life? Just for a day?
The Importance of Unicorns and Bratwurst — https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/the-importance-of-unicorns-and-bratwurst/
The Importance of Unicorns and Bratwurst. This is one of those ethereal, out-of-body titles that try to connect the cosmic to the ordinary, the magical to the mundane. I was hit by this title some time ago, not having a clue as to what it meant or what I would eventually write about. Even now, as my fingers hit the keys, I have no idea where this storyline is going. But isn’t that so much like our everyday lives?
Merlot at the Lake House — https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/merlot-at-the-lake-house/
Quick. Name a handful of your favorite movies. Not the “great” ones that are in your library ― the ones that define you. The ones you don’t admit entertain you time and time gain. Are you what you watch? Are you big enough to admit that you are what you watch?
The fireflies were out in full force tonight, their little behinds blinking, signaling, and flirting away in the dark woods behind my house. I took off my glasses and watched the blinking blurs zigzag through all dimensions, and I wondered — what did our ancestors see around them before glasses were invented? I myself could definitely see faeries with their little lanterns just out of reach, being busy little beauties, doing whatever little faeries do.
What else did our primitive ancestors see?
No wonder ghouls and Bigfoot and ghosts were so much a part of our history. Puffs of mist, the meeting of warm air and cold, could easily be mistaken for a ghostly apparition. Everyone thinks squirrels do nothing but chitter throughout the day. Few know that their agitated squeal outweighs that of a crow at times. Why wouldn’t that sound be translated as a banshee in the dark?
Modern day humans have lost touch with the mystic, the magical, the moronic. I suppose it makes more sense to know that moving lights across the night sky are airplanes and not spaceships, or that the little furry thing scurrying behind the rock in the yard is a striped chipmunk and not a hodag. But what’s the harm in thinking unicorns hide in the woods or the blinking bug derrieres are faeries with lanterns in the dark playing hide-and-seek? That the hill in the distance is really Mordor? That the path that disappears into the woods is really a bridge to another time?
I know writers tend to exaggerate when it comes to telling a story. But I’m talking about all of us and our ability to spin tales and our willingness to make things up as we go. We should test the bounds of physics, chemistry, religion, and countless other logistics that humans have taken so long to create. In the hands of a master puppeteer, a wooden creation can take a life of its own. What is so wrong with dancing along with the puppet? To step on the cracks on the sidewalk instead of over them?
I look at my grandbaby – everyone’s grandbaby – and admire their ability to pretend. They don’t know the difference between a box and a rocket ship, between a plate filled with noodles and plate filled with worms. We are always so quick to correct, to point out the truth, that we leave little room for imagination to grow. Of course we want our kids to know the truth. But through the effort of correction we also close the doors to maybe. When those doors are closed, especially if they are slammed shut, we often cannot get them open again. We have to “know” everything as if our lives depended on it. Indeed, we need to “know” not to stick our fingers in an electrical socket or to stand in the middle of the highway. But you know I’m not talking about that kind of knowing. We know lightning is an electric discharge from cloud to cloud or from cloud to earth seen as a flash of light. What ever happened to Zeus’s bolt from Olympus? And why can’t clouds be pillows?
Those who have lost the ability to pretend have lost a valuable part of their personal development. We are brought up to understand right from wrong, how things work. That part is important ― that part assures our survival. But so does pretending. A little twisting of reality doesn’t hurt anyone, especially if it is shared in a positive, good-natured way. We tell our kids that the tooth fairy takes the tooth under the pillow and leaves some monetary reward behind; sooner or later they figure out the truth, and chuckle that they were so gullible. So it is with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, too. And as far as I can see, there are no mental scars in those who once believed.
Sometimes it’s just fun to get carried away with reality, make up your own stories, your own tales, of who, what, where, or why something “is”. The truth will always be the truth in one realm. But there was a time when truth was something totally different from modern days. Who’s to say that crop circles aren’t made by aliens? What’s wrong with “believing” that carrying an acorn will bring you luck and longevity, or if your right ear itches, someone is speaking well of you, but if your left ear itches, someone is speaking ill of you? There’s nothing wrong with a little nonsense sprinkled into your daily repertoire. Nothing wrong with spinning tales of angels bowling when it thunders or thinking dragons once roamed the earth. Make up your own stories. Create your own myths. Pretend that the lady in the grey coat you always see in the park is really Coco Channel. That the car parked under the tree in the alley is really Al Capone’s getaway car. Tell stories of ancient heroes or pixies or the Civil War. Are they true? What does it matter?
According to Reader’s Digest (http://www.rd.com/family/encourage-your-childs-imagination/), encouraging imagination builds self confidence (develops confidence in one’s abilities and their potential), boosts intellectual growth (helps to think symbolically), improves language skills (people who pretend do lots of talking and thinking, helping to boost vocabulary, improve sentence structure and enhance communication skills), develops social skills (explore relationships between family members, friends and co-workers and learn more about how people interact), and helps work out fears (pretending helps gain self control over confusing feelings).
So the next time you see something out of the corner of your eye, or gnarly branches that look eerily like monster arms, have no fear. It’s only Gandalf, Nessy, Frankenstein, and Apollo all knocking on your door, wanting to come in. Let them.
As long as they don’t stay for supper, you’re all right.