Tuesday, October 15, 2013

`The Real Estate of Your Imagination

All those times when you most find yourself wanting a reality check against the balance sheet of your inner life, nothing seems to come to mind faster than a walk at the beach.  Not the shore line, where the sea has provided a moistened, almost springy pace.  Not the tide line, where you must be alert to the reach of each incoming wave set.

For the reality check type of walk you have in mind, nothing is more effective than sand left to its own devices.  Walking on sand is sometimes used as a training procedure for runners and for those recovering from some leg trauma or injury.  

After assuring the surgeon who exchanged a titanium ball and socket for what was the hip you were issued at birth that you were able to walk a mile without stopping, he suggested you put in some time at the beach, walking where you knew each step was going to be noticed.

From whatever combination of causes and effects, you spend a good deal of your time on the sands of terrain within your imagination.  This means you've with some deliberation suspended many of the rules and conventions governing day-to-day behavior.  

You've done so in quest of discovery, your goals being information about yourself and your own behavior and how you are in effect attempting to dramatize Utopian or dystopian societies of your own speculation.

Dry loose sand.  A perfect metaphor for reality.  Each step a sink hole, a potential tumble or slogging gait, a muscle spasm or pulled tendon, a leg cramp later in the day.

And so, most nights, you're out on the streets, walking, cranking out the miles, keeping yourself in some kind of tone whereby you can put some words down on a computer screen or, even better, on those lined yellow sheets of the note pads you buy at Office Max, later to transcribe to the dark, secret places of your computer hard drive.

The beach and the city streets.  Reality reminding you, time and time again, how you must take to the sands and to the sidewalks in order to support the times spent within your imagination, conjuring worlds wherein your characters may have to step gingerly through the difficult terrain but you have only to imagine the places where they need to go.

The yet greater truth is your need not only of the dry loose sand of the beach but the city streets and, if you're lucky, open lanes in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.  This greater truth plays against the near anguish of you, increasing your pace to accustom your body to more stress, reminding you of the times when you trained your body for such events as marathon, half-marathon, one of your favorite races, the 20 kilometer, and even the 10 K.  This running was always for the sheer pleasure of those times when you were aware of nothing but the pace of your stride and the sense of being little more than your pace.  

The comparison is apt because while your race times were respectable, they were not and for some time had not been exceptional.  In your teens and twenties, your time was closer to exceptional, but those races were called dashes.  You had not understood the chemistry of distance running, which included the reality of mediocre times from which you were at liberty to experience your pleasures.

The same comparison may obtain with your writing.  You are more competitive about it.  If anything, age has added to it rather than applied such albatrosses as mellowness or mature wisdom.  As a writer, you are neither mature nor wise, rather an individual of surprising sweeps of enthusiasm and the alarming ability to impress yourself with the chunks of vision you have bitten off.

You inveigh against reality but you need it to use as the backdrop for your fiction and nonfiction speculations.  Writers who complain about time are one thing, and you are in solidarity with them.  Writers who yearn beyond their means for the ability to support themselves to do nothing but write are irritations to you.

You do strange enough things when you consider yourself writing.  Having unlimited time would bog you in sands you've never had to face in reality.

Unlimited time is the reality you train against.

A burning desire is nothing until it finds its own reality check, whatever that may be and where ever you may find it.

From your perspective, how much better it is to struggle through a final paragraph before dragging off to bed than the luxury of approaching sleep as though it were some refreshment spa of rejuvenation, from which you emerge to consider the strategy of the new day.

Your imagination and abilities to compose are on the order of a shrewdly designed video game,designed to measure your skills at getting across the sand.

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