Sunday, January 5, 2014


A favored condition of yours takes hold of you at numerous times during numerous activities, such as reading, listening to music, editing your own work and the work of others, composing your own work, and talking about things for which you have a great enthusiasm or for which you feel genuine outrage.

You're often not aware of being "in" the condition until, having been in it for a time, you begin to wind down, or, while still in it, you are distracted by another, powerful force.

The condition is a portmanteau word for your own process, wherein time is one of the first outer senses to disappear.  Awareness of space often departs, the result being you're not aware of your physical place of the moment, not to any degree you are "in" some aspect of your process, be it for reading, listening to music, editing, composing, and, when in a class room or lecture, "going off," or what musicians would call riffing.

The growing realization comes to you:  While being "in" your process has some similarities to drug- or meditation-induced altered states, the condition is not so much spiritual as it is one of absorption.  Being able to get there took a long while, during most of which, some relationship to publication seemed necessary.  

Even at times when your fortunes were down and you were reduced to work you found overwhelming in its ability to cause you boredom, and you were still managing an occasional published piece, another process was working on you.  Were you aware of it?  In all probability, you were not.

Yet here is the payoff.  Without knocking the publication, the key was doing the work of composing.  Thus the muscle memory being developed for entering the project, for becoming a part of it.  Doing the work became the end in itself.  From that point, perhaps age 45 or so, you were working at becoming a writer.

Another five or six years in, you became one, which is to say, regardless of the work, you were able to get "in."  Much of what you compose finds its way into publication now, but that, too, is a process which you were in the way of learning to the point where it became muscle memory.

You do not have time to have taken on another assignment that has come to you through the accident of where you go for coffee or the occasional meal.  Somehow, that will get done, and an as yet unknowable number of the things you see, hovering out there like the coastal fogs of summer, wishing for you attention, clamoring to be listened to, will get done.

What you see, all the way to the horizon, are not clouds or mist, but projects, their lights blinking at you from afar.  The horizon, when you think about it, becomes a metaphor, even an objective correlative for the point where the universe continues without you.  You are happy to see the horizon off in the distance, having a meaning for you it did not have when you were pushed in a pram along the palisades in Santa Monica by your mother or the maid, Nellie Foley, or when you were walked later by another maid, Vivian.  

At those times and later times, horizons became boundaries you could extend by reaching or standing on higher ground.  "Always reach beyond what you can see,"  your father advised you, more than once.

In the way you have found of finding your way into process, and being in it, unaware of time, space, and causation, you are working as well toward a relationship with horizons.  There will always be something between you and the horizon.  You will always see things between you and it, projects, possibilities.  And you will attempt to reach beyond it until the universe continues without you.

These are comforting times of the year, here in Central Coast, California, where the horizon is clear, the outlines of the Channel Islands sharp and craggy in the background, the bounce of final sunlight on the water sending news of celebrations across the tang of the salt night air.

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