Monday, June 18, 2012

La La Land?

If you don’t daydream and kind of plan things out in your imagination
you never get there. So you have to start someplace! ~ Robert Duvall

At the bank drive-through I place my check in the clear canister and wait to watch it rocket up and out of sight… then zip back down with green cash.

 I’m in no hurry. It’s a bright sunny day and I’ve nothing else to do but sit and kill time amongst the near-five-o’clock traffickers. 

My mind wanders off somewhere other than the bank where my Cherokee is parked…

Within minutes I hear a polite voice through a speaker. “Did you want to send this up to me?” I glance past the first row of cars and see the smiling teller leaning my way.

Oops, I’m thinking, facing her and saying, “Oh sorry, I’m in La La Land.”  And I push the magic button and watch my encased check zoom up up and away. Cash in hand, I drive off wondering, where was my mind?

Neil Gaiman says, “You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice what we’re doing.” Don’t we though?  

The castle-building habit, the day-dreaming habit – how it grows!
What a luxury it becomes; how we fly to its enchantments at every idle moment,
how we revel in them, steep our souls in them, intoxicate ourselves
with their beguiling fantasies – oh yes, and how soon and how easily our dream-life
and our material life become so intermingled and so fused together
that we can’t quite tell which is which anymore.  ~ Mark Twain

Early on you knew about that inner world, in fact you lived there half the time. It was quite possible to be in two places at once. You could transfer in a blink from your small classroom desk back to your mother’s womb. Could return to being alone in a pond with no other fish.  A safe warm place.

Even at six years old you intuited the necessity of solitude and its relevance to your call in life. However, there was no real solitude in the classroom unless you tuned out your actual surroundings - much like the autistic child manages to do.

And now it happens most anywhere, anytime.  Stoplights are good places to drift off while you’re sitting idle… Reading a boring book can send you downstream… walking, jogging…

And movies like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy are good launch pads. No pun.

Years ago my brother and I attended a homecoming service at our old church and sat through the most longwinded sermon ever. Stomachs growling, grownups squirming like small children…

My mind sending a mental message, pleading, begging, like Moses to Pharaoh, let my people go.

When finally the preacher set us free my brother said to me, “Every so often I found my mind wandering back to the sermon.”  

What about you?  When are you most likely to drift off to La La Land? 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Still Point

Sometime, when you look back, you can point to a time when your world shifts and heads in another direction. In lace reading this is called “the still point.”
~ Brunonia Barry (The Lace Reader)

No matter what all the books and gurus claim, we don’t ever live fully in the present moment. How is this possible when there is such a vast sea of memories within us? We can aim to live each given moment to the full, but we can’t escape the past.

Nor can we ignore what lies ahead. The sum total of our being is comprised of past, present, and future. Our history teaches us what we need to know about ourselves in order to move forward. The present shows us where our feet are standing now. 

Dreams and goals direct us toward the future.
The eternal now is the intersection where all three meet.

Within the still point, past, present, and future exist simultaneously and time, as we know it, disappears completely. ~ The Lace Reader’s Guide

One memory haunted me for the longest time. It wouldn’t let go until I wrote it down and contemplated its meaning. It taught me how empty I was, always on a quest for peace of mind, forever roaming about and knocking on doors, seeking for some outer source to fill my lonely ache. It taught me about the God shaped vacuum.

The Still Point
Beneath a dome of gunmetal sky I push my toddler
son along the bumpy pavement, buckled up
and snug in his umbrella stroller. 

We come upon a ghost campus
at spring break.  The only signs of life today are a
concert of birds in verdant trees, and centerstage,
a fountain cascading into a wishing pool. 
Incandescent fish, like kids at hide and seek,
dart underneath the candock.

The stroller click-clacks onward, over brick pathways
in our pursuit of pleasure.  Here, an octagonal structure
on which a plaque is posted: Peace to all who enter
here.  A locked door.  So much for peace.  Whatever
presence might have dwelt within that place
remains a mystery. 

The meditation center, I’ve been told, has since
been leveled like an old ramshackle privy.
A quarter-century passes. My son grows tall
and travels west, ascends the heights
of Swannanoa where heaven
is more within his reach.

And me?  Even now I stroll toward the still
point in my wandering mind.  And sometimes
I arrive to find the door left open.

Looking back, can you pinpoint a time
when your world shifted and you headed in a different direction? 

The Still Point was first published in Crucible.  

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