Things Seen and Unseen

I know I’ve talked here before about how easy it is to stop seeing what’s right in front of me because, well, it’s always right there in front of me. The ubiquitous becoming invisible, and all of that. But lately I’ve been thinking, too, about how often what I haven’t seen before gets automatically dismissed by my brain as non-essential because I relied on the part of thinking that makes instantaneous generalizations and assumptions and chooses to categorize things, as soon as it decides the new thing doesn’t pose a threat.
Digital illustration: Friendly Little Insect

While this rarely makes, in real life, the stuff of horror stories, as much as I like a rollicking scary tale at times, I am more concerned when I begin to wonder just how many things this autopilot state of mine makes me miss. Have I bypassed grand opportunities through lack of attention? Undoubtedly. Has my life been different than it could have been had I been more deliberate and thoughtful and thorough? Certainly. Are there people I’ve met whom I never got to know as well as I should have done, never appreciated as deeply as they deserved, never enjoyed the benefits of learning from them or being made better by a real relationship with them? That is unquestionably the hard truth.

Will I be smarter, moving forward, because I paused to ask myself these questions? That, my friends, definitely remains to be seen. I like to think that I’m teachable, but I know I’m also drawn to the easy path in life and often distracted by non-essentials when I should at least be watching where I step, so I’ll make no promises. If I do, however, happen upon any new and delightful things or, especially, people and recognize greater value than a passing glance would have registered, then I won’t consider myself beyond rescue in this regard. Plus, I might find in them the material for some fantastic fiction later on, if I’m lucky.

Hot Flash Fiction 11: Undocumented Alien

digital illustrationThough we all saw our third grade teacher as a pretty lady and wonderfully good-natured, she was also quietly self-effacing and exceedingly proper, so when she was summarily carted off as an unregistered and presumably dangerous foreigner, everyone in the school, nay, in the entire town, was mightily surprised. Of course, when the government interrogation of her was deep in progress and her skin suddenly began to luminesce and the shoulders of her nice dress ripped at the seams as her wings unfurled from underneath, it turned out that nobody could be more surprised than the feds.digital illustration

Anachronisms

There are advantages to being out of sync with the known, the planned and the expected. Nothing new, of course, can ever happen if someone or something doesn’t step out of line. Creativity and growth can only take wing if we allow anomalies and anachronisms. Learning doesn’t happen without forward movement and its inevitable mistakes.

So once in a while there has to be the duckling hatched in autumn or the crazy idea hatched at three a.m.

Great things are timely no matter when they occur.digital illustration

Mysterious Phenomena & Exotic Doings

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It’s hard to know what to make of such goings-on . . .

Sharp Objects Falling out of the Sky

On certain Wednesday mornings

Sharp objects from the sky

Come shearing down the sides of clouds

Like spaceships zipping by

And boulders, ashtrays, cutlery

And great meteorites

Come slashing from the heavens

But clear up by Wednesday nights

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. . . but I’ve come to expect the unexpected . . .

Signs of a Good Trip Ahead

That wonderful invention the GPS is generally a generous gift to a diva of disorientation like me. With my myriad forms of dyslexia all interlocking magically to make it virtually impossible for me to find my way practically anywhere past my own mailbox, it’s nice to have a personal assistant, albeit a computerized one, telling me how to get from Point A to Point B and beyond. And I do love a good road trip, when the opportunity arises.

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You are Here, but There’s No Here Here

But even our GPS (sometimes fondly called Peggy Sue after the lady who first helped us find our way around our new home, town and state) in all her digital wisdom can’t find everything. Sometimes, as on the above-pictured occasion, she has no more clue where her driver and passengers are than they do. And you know, it’s kind of amusing to me. Not only does it amuse me to look at the GPS screen and see it telling me that I am a little red arrow flying through the air in the vastness of uncharted space, but it’s weirdly reassuring to me that my lack of omniscience is far from unique in this world. All the same, I do appreciate Peggy Sue’s selfless assistance when it’s needed and available.photoOn the other hand, there’s plenty to be said for going forward without knowing what comes next. In life, it’s just plain inevitable–prescience of any sort is in mighty short supply. On holiday, going with the flow is often the perfect way to have a rich and full adventure, and even the occasional mishaps stand a chance of being fodder for both present delight and reminiscent hilarity. On the pictured ‘flight’ across uncharted Texas territory, my spouse and I were so happily absorbed in relishing the sights along the unknown way that we both failed to notice one of our other digital auto-assistants signaling us that the supply of petrol was diminishing, until it was seriously questionable whether we’d make it to a gas station before the tank ran dry. We knew we were in the vicinity of Seguin (a place we’d been through a few weeks ago) and crossed our fingers that following the intermittent signs to town would get us to a refilled tank in time. Not only did we make it in time, we had a trip in a time machine on the strength of that refueling. The little bit we’ve seen of Seguin has a remarkably somnolent sense of being stuck in time, and not even strictly one single point in time but rather as though everyone in the whole town has dragged his or her weathered boots every step of the way through its history, and everyone in turn has stopped off at a different spot in the past before picking up speed and rejoining the flow of time. Past and present meander in and out of each other and the buildings and land around Seguin and beckon us, in our turn, to slow down and enjoy the oddity of being off the map and off the tow rope of time simultaneously.

photoWe didn’t stop quite long enough to buy wrestling tickets, mind you, but the lure of the unique and the mystery of moving ahead without any inkling of what might lie ahead kept us rolling along all the happier when we were securely back on a full tank (once we found one of those vintage petrol pumps that was fully functional and deciphered the toothless ramblings of the guy sitting in his lawn chair ‘instructing’ us through our transaction from across the lot). If we hadn’t been to Seguin, we’d never have experienced its time-capsule marvels, potted around wondering how on earth a town that size could survive with so few gas stations, or gotten to see the World’s Largest Pecan, a sculpture on the lawn of City Hall that is probably really about the second or third largest representation of said nut in the US and possibly about the second or third least decorative sculpture (sorry, Seguin!) upon which any town proudly bases a promotional motto. Strange? A tad. Stuff I could easily have lived a long and healthy life without seeing or experiencing? Perhaps. But I’ve no regrets that our particular turns in the road took us there and led us to all of that fun, plenty entertaining even without wrestling tickets.

A Little Texas Secret

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Have you heard?

When people say Everything in Texas is Bigger it’s true–up to a point. Texans in general are happy to point out the vast number of marvels, from natural resources to business and entertainment, culture and personalities, that are bigger than life in this part of the world. Is Texas full of tall grass and longhorn cattle and bluebonnets and armadillos, sizzling days and stormy nights, oil wells and roughnecks and rodeo riders? You bet.photoBut there are amazing and unexpected and even–gasp!–tiny details that also sparkle throughout the Lone Star State and help to make it far more varied and unpredictable than the image Texas has beyond its borders might lead anyone to believe. A spectacular water-lily park? Why, yes, that’s here. Masses of beautiful, delicate butterflies? Oh, yes, those too. I think it’s safe to say that not many people are likely to think of French food when Texas is mentioned, but not only does la cuisine Française exist in Texas, it’s even featured in an eatery in the also seemingly non-very-Texas named town of Humble. I mean it: Texas is full of surprises, and not all of them even Texas-big.photoSee, that’s the thing about stereotypes, archetypes, assumptions and expectations. Generalizing about any place or culture may give us a handy entré to allow us the chance of learning to know it better, but it skims the surface of reality far too much to be dependable as a gauge for the whole of the thing. On my first trip overseas I was immediately struck by the odd conversations I overheard between the locals here and there and the American travelers. It’s not uncommon for natives to ask visitors what things are like where they live; what I found out is that it’s also pretty common for said visitors to pontificate as though their limited experience of life were the standard for all and sundry where they come from–not just all the folk in their house but all in their town, county, state, region–heck, I heard fellow US citizens abroad telling foreign nationals with utter nonchalance what ‘America’ was like. Just as though every part of America were completely homogenous, every US denizen interchangeable.photoI’m perfectly happy to state that not only is that a ridiculous barrel of hogwash but I have seen evidence very much to the contrary in places all over this country. Not to mention in the great state of Texas, in our county, in our town. Yes, in our own household. Texans do like their BBQ and their tall tales, their football and pecan pie and yes, their guns. The real secret, if you must know, is that no place is precisely, and only, like its image. No matter how small or grand that image happens to be.

Beginning Again

photoGetting Ahead of Myself

Around that corner just ahead is some Unknown that in my head
Is not the terror-building fright that lends to terrors in the night
For pessimistic glass-half-gone, despairing people, dusk to dawn,
In nightmare hiding, room to room, expecting any moment Doom–
In my imaginings and dreams, instead, the Unknown beckons, gleams
And twinkles like a shooting star, calling to me to roam afar
Into ephemeral and great new joys from early hours to late,
Adventures, newness, glamor, thrills, all dancing at my windowsills
And hovering at door and gate just out of view–
Oh, I can’t wait!photo

 

A Date with Heraclitus

We all have a certain number of fixed elements in the schedules of our lives. At least, we think we do. And most of the time, we manage to keep them in fair order and stick to them. That, in itself, is really rather near to miraculous.

Every one of you who has crashed breathlessly through the door at four seconds to ten for the 18th weekly meeting of your Steering Committee, after an epic morning battling with a cracked molar, a stuck zipper, a closed freeway exit and a sinkhole that opened directly under your reserved parking space–only to find last night’s emergency notice scrawled on the white board, informing everyone that the meeting had to be moved to the Annex back on the other side of town–you know what I’m talking about.

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Well, I know why *that* Mourning Dove was crying . . .

Best laid plans, Ha! Old Reliable, Ho-ho-ho! Change happens, endlessly. Who am I to argue against the great philosopher who says so?

No matter how wizardly we are in arranging our lives, planning and organizing and arranging to the finest and most delicate degree of control, all of the skill and dedication in the world can’t stop the flow of life’s river from going where, when and how it will.

The good news is that despite the vicissitudes of our ever-changing reality. We manage, and we do so well enough most of the time that we can maintain the illusion, perhaps even the delusion, that we can predict and control our lives’ events for the most part. The very fact that things ‘gang aft agley‘ as they do keeps us on the alert and trains us to be flexible when we must, inventive when we can, and swift to recover when all else fails. Change, as we all must finally allow, is the only true constant.

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Some days even the repair equipment is just not up to the task . . .

Now, should I post this today, I wonder? Or should I write another post and save this one for another day, when something comes up unexpectedly–and it will–and disrupts my plan for that day’s post? Always good to have a get-out-of-jail-free pass tucked in my back pocket, I should think . . .