Sunday, March 9, 2008

Collision Courses

1. It comes upon you when you least expect it, often at a time when you have gone somewhere out of your orbit, expressly to be alone, perhaps to read, perhaps to look at student papers, perhaps to restructure something you have written, sometime when you are wanting the necessary focus to prepare a lecture or presentation.

2. Sometimes is is at a sit-down dinner, where you find yourself next to someone unknown to you and, accordingly, someone to whom you wish to make yourself known.

3. Perhaps at a gathering, when an arm snakes out, takes yours, and says, I have to talk to you.

4. The it is an insight or possibly a story; in either case it wants your attention while it delivers to you by intent or by the merest of cosmic accidents a strand of information that erupts within your consciousness to the point where you want to get your hands on it as though it were moist clay or a plangent note, something you can shape, something that can turn into a form you had no idea existed before.

5. The universe is filled with such events, such collisions of subatomic particles and ideas the buzz about like bees on steroids. You have been met with enough of them and seen others encounter them to understand that there is no rational guide to placing yourself in their path. They have orbits, trajectories, and velocities of their own.

6. Even though you know enough to identify them, you cannot plot their course or yours the way, say, a sailor can navigate a course. You ca be doing what seems to be the right thing, trolling, ready, receptive, and yet nada.

7. You know the sound of the arrival, like a bug meeting your windshield with furious velocity, a thunk of a sound, calling you out.

8. The voice that does the calling is your voice your true voice, hey look!

9. There are temptations to make a congratulatory fuss about the arrival, but you know from past experience that this is no time for such congratulation.

10. You excuse yourself from the now as quickly as possible, knowing you are about to become the recipient of a secret.

11. This time, you promise not to stop probing until you have the secret.

12. No matter where the insight or story takes you, the secret is not about it, the secret is about you and what you have dreamed or fantasied or wished or hoped or possibly ignored or, or, or. Because it is a secret, you will not remember it immediately; it will come struggling forth like a new child down the tube, peeled and patted into breath and then separated from its source of energy while it was taking form.

13. How can it be a story if it has no secret?

14. How can it be your story without some part of you needing to give it voice.

15. Some nights you watch the Milky Way, that vast galaxy of gas and story, blinking and arching across time.

16. A story is light from a distant star, possibly even a dead star, sending its secret to collide with you.

17. You read someone else's story and you are felled by the immensity of the way it has collided with you, slammed into your receptors, your awareness.

18. Now, it is your turn...


R.L. Bourges said...

Yes, life is full of events that come whacking at you when you least expect them. At least, I know mine is so this resonates deeply.
7. also suggests to me a bird mistaking the reflection of sky for the sky and smashing into a plate glass window. Something of a peculiar talent of mine. Hasn't killed me yet but damn - so painful.
When it happens, I have a lot of trouble saving my stories from the self-inflicted confusion that ensues (and from the fictional readers I had invented for my storytelling). If ever the topic of internal reader inspires you to write anything, I'm sure I wouldn't be the only one to benefit from your thoughts on the subject.

f:lux said...


Lori Witzel said...

Thanks for the meteor shower of a post -- it'll stand me in good stead this week, when I must listen so attentively and narrowly to other's voices.

Here's to The Compost Heap, and turning It.


Unknown said...

Actions and reactions, things obvious and things to be revealed... there would be no story without a secret, a secret most times which we already suspect we are privy to, but aren't quite certain until the author fully lets us in on it.