A Faraway Look

Daydreaming is amazingly useful. No matter what teachers and bosses and impatient parents may have said over the years (never to me, of course, wink-wink), that pleasant fugue state of seemingly purposeless internal wandering is where a great deal of terrific, very purposeful invention and problem-solving happens. It takes us to inner regions where we are unencumbered by rules, editing, and logic, and can let the what-ifs of experiment and hope play together until, sometimes, they produce brilliant results that endless hours and years of study and labor might never have fostered. How can we expect to engender anything grand if we don’t aim for the seemingly impossible?Photo: Faraway

Consistent study and labor are, of course, quite necessary if we are to be able to even conceive of what exists and how we intend to alter it; to begin with no facts, no tools, no notions of probability or potential will inevitably leave us puzzling fruitlessly for ages before we ever approach a fantastic and outlandish idea, let alone a useful one. But once the seeds have been sown, we can’t assume that there would be no purpose in additional time and imagination spent on divining what to do when they begin to grow as well. The dreamers of the world have nurtured at least as much meaningful and helpful stuff as the mere scientists and scholars and brawny-brained geniuses have done, but with less hoopla, and it seems to me that we should be wary of working too hard to bring fantasists down to earth too soon.Photo: Fruition

Assume, when you see me in an apparently abstracted slide toward the comatose, that I am in fact inwardly journeying toward a dazzling insight or earthshaking invention or two, and leave me in peace. I shall emerge, in due time, bearing the harvest of this grand exploratory trip. Or at least I’ll have had a refreshing nap. I’ll happily leave it to you to determine the value of the difference, if any, between the two eventualities.

I’ve Got Something on My Mind…

Photo: Something on My MindThough many may doubt it, I’ve often got something on my mind. Much of the time it is, as you might guess, quite frivolous and fantastical. But on occasion, I have actually, factually, genuinely had a thought or two of some depth and seriousness. Thankfully, these tend to pass without causing me too much pain, though like the aftereffects of an evening of overindulgence at the cheese board, the passing thereof might engender in others a certain degree of discomfiture, for which I apologize in general here and now.

Once I’ve recovered myself I will of course return to my normal abnormality and indulge in thoughts no more intense or impressive than wisps of fairy hair and glints of glitter, and I hope that you will still accept me, bird-brained and hare-brained though I may be. And may all of your ruminations give you more pleasure than pain as well!

Spaceships, Time Machines, Bicycles

Photo: One for the RoadWhen I think about it, I’m amazed at how many modes of transport exist. Contrary to the fantasies popular in the middle of the past century, we’re not all traveling in levitating cars and being atomized and reassembled on opposite sides of the world. But it’s still fiction-worthy stuff that emerges when I realize we’re within reach of fully self-driven cars and can already travel at light speed, drive under the sea, and fly to the moon and, yes—more importantly—back again.

Fiction, however, has always outstripped real-world progress, as well it should. If we don’t imagine it first, how can we build it? If we didn’t travel thus in dreams, what chance would there be of our ever doing so in life?

I have invented an item or two in my time, but my ingenious machinations have never yet been realized in concrete form, at least those unrelated to my art. Still, I hold dear the idea that ideation is the necessary precedent of exciting discoveries and meaningful inventions. As silly as they may seem, then, I’m unlikely to quit developing my odd creations of the imaginary sort.

Who knows what journeys might someday spring from them?Digital illustration from photos: Time Machines

Portals

Photo montage: Portals 1Every doorway, every window, every gate is a portal to adventure. It may well be that those  portals are locked when I approach. More often than not, I find that it’s I who locked them up, who put impediments in my own way. That is the price of fear, of laziness, and of self-doubt. What holds me back or shuts me out is rarely an insurmountable obstacle; it’s me, often and only me. If I want to grow and change, learn and progress, it’s up to me to find the openings I most want to explore, and challenge the barriers with all my might. If I can’t find the key, I should make one. And frankly, if I can’t do that, I should probably make some adventures of my own and not bother waiting for the right portal to appear. Knock, knock! Life calling!Photo montage: Portals 2

Meeting the New Kid

Did you know that there are creatures you didn’t know you knew? Of course you knew it. After all, there’s the whole race of super-characters, multiple species like the Yeti and the Loch Ness Monster, Dracula and Tinkerbell, Wonder Woman and Wolverine peopling our universe, or at least some parallel ones, so we’re pretty well surrounded by fantastic fellow creatures if we’re willing and able to recognize them.
Digital illustration: Bumblesaurus

I think that perhaps part of the reason I’ve so long loved living so deeply in my imagination is that, having the social anxiety I’ve always dealt with when it comes to human-type people, I find I’m fond of fictional company and its many quirks and quizzical qualities. Not that I would necessarily be more masterful or even less shy in the midst of make-believe characters: I’m perfectly capable of being intimidated by the magnificence of pretend persons or frightened by the nastiness of the wicked ones just as easily as by real folk.

So you’ll forgive me if, despite his appearance of being slow-moving, benign, and perhaps a touch dim-witted yet perfectly friendly, I take my time getting to know the Bumblesaurus. He just wandered into the backyard when I wasn’t looking and made himself at home under a mulberry seedling. Yes, you got that right: he’s four centimeters long. Did I mention that I’m a nervous type? I mean, you only have to be the size of a flea to spread the plague all over Europe and kill off hordes of humans, right? I really do have to remind myself to give everyone, not least of all the Bumblesaurus, the benefit of the doubt. As they probably all do me.

Blue or Not, that Rare Moon

Digital illustration: Rare Moon Seeing the moon at its showiest as often as I have lately makes me immeasurably glad. At the level of pure appearance, its resemblance to a magnificent pearl hanging on the breast of the sky makes that nacreous gleam a beauty of which I can never tire, any more than I would grow weary of taking slow, deep breaths after a spring rain when the lilacs have newly opened. It’s as though all the finery ever worn by all the goddesses of myth has fused into that one palely magnificent, ethereal yet endlessly potent jewel in the sky, so powerful that it can be seen sharply delineated at the height of day, yet as delicate as hoarfrost or needle lace in the faint patterns of its glimmering surface. And like the poets, philosophers and writers who preceded me, as well as those at whose feet I now sit, I remain in awe of the very idea of the moon; its mysterious pull on tide, time and spirit all at once never fails to startle me when I stop to think of it. I would like to sleep every night directly under the moon, staring until my eyes can stay open no longer, if I could really sleep there: while I imagine it might be impossible to close my eyes with such magisterial magic before me. Even when the moon is at its slightest, at nadir or waning to a hairline, it keeps its mystical hold on my imagination. Sleep or no, I can only expect I would dream. The glory of the moon demands dreaming, and whether I rest or not under its wondrous beams I will always delight in seeking to replenish my store of dreams, and by such restoration, to renew my own strength by the welcome, fabulous light of the gleaming moon.

The Bones of the Beach

I grew up pretty near the Pacific Ocean. It was a matter of a couple of hours to get to its shores from home, and mere minutes’ drive to Puget Sound, and I have always loved any chance to spend time along the water. At home in Texas, it’s not so easy: there are a few man-made lakes within a short drive, with a few public beach spots along the edges of each, most of the time too hot for strolling, and that’s about it. So that recent trip to Puerto Rico was a brief but lovely reminder of what pleasure I find in wandering the beach when I can, absorbing not only a bit of salt water through my happy bare feet and the tangy air through my expanding lungs but also the great sense of history and adventure inherent in all of the findings strewn along the tidal brink.Digital collage: Beachcomber's Trove

Despite being so much a water-baby at heart, I’ve never so much loved open water swimming—after all, my people are the pale, easily fried folk of Norway who transplanted to the familiarly brisk spank of the coastal waters to fish and farm and forest-hunt as they’d done back in the old country. But I’m drawn all the same to explore the tide-pools and comb through the heaps of hidden-and-revealed treasure that line the beach, sucking deep breaths of sea breeze happily right down to my soul. I love to see all of the bits of shell and bone and stone piled up and intermingled with molted feathers, ship detritus and the petrified lace of corals and seaweed. Every tiny piece seems to hold such a storied past that I can stare and sift and dream endlessly.Photos: Beach Bones

What caused that lone shoe to wash up here from unknown shores? Why are those pieces of sea-soaked driftwood burnt but not in the fire pit, rather appearing like a dragon-singed skeleton in a distant heap down the shore? How did so many colors of ghostly and sandblasted beach glass come to bejewel the line of the tide together? Who were the creatures that fished the shore and left bleached fish bones here, a crab shell there? When did the storms kick up such a foment of foam that the inland side of mean high tide has a gloss of it lacquered firmly across the surface of its sand? Where are the children whose sandcastle ruins are still tucked behind the biggest boulders on the beach, waving flags of leaf and kelp from their stunted battlements? And most importantly, when can I return to the beach to stroll and dream of such things again?