Sunday, March 23, 2014


Combinations of happenstance and whim have caused you from time to time to occupy a motel room in which, within easy reach of the beds, a coin-operated device seeks to lure an extra quarter or half dollar from you via a vibrating mattress.

Always curious and alert to such potentials for discovery and adventure, you've parted with quarters, drawn into a transaction in a high desert motel in California where the vibrating mattress produced more of a droning noise than any sense of actual movement.

Results, over the years, have varied from the sublime, a sincere three minutes of tangible, relaxation-inducing vibration to the ridiculous extreme of what some of your experiences have been with riding horses.

Over those same years of being up for adventure, you've come to the conclusion that a vibrating mattress, indeed, pretty much of a vibrating anything is an adult substitution for the toys, rides, and experiences of youth.

The key here is imagination, which is a quality that has child-like and adult aspects.  You are able to approach this topic with multiple points of view.  There is the retrospective of your own youth where a nickel was enough to get you five laps around the shetland pony ring on the west side of La Cienega Boulevard, a scant half block from Beverly Boulevard in midtown Los Angeles, and the closer-to-present time, where you fed dimes into various machine rides in front of supermarkets for your nieces.

Among the more attractive aspects of the child-like imagination for you is the ability to transform seemingly anything into something quite remarkable in its reach and wonder.  The first few times you were given rids on one of the La Cienega Boulevard ponies, your imagination was busy providing you pictures of what it might be like to ride a larger horse, and then a horse in the desert.  You soon graduated to being on that timid Shetland pony a cowboy, herding cattle drives. 

 On your own devices, the mere wearing of the hood portion of your rain coat allowed you to become a pilot, maneuvering classic World War I and then World War II airplanes among the enemy, dodging their bullets, executing the famed evasive trick, The Luffberry Circle, to the frustration and consternation of your pursuers.

The memory of the thrill of those adventures in imagination still causes you the same effect at twenty-five or fifty cents in one of the better of the vibrating mattress experiences, moments of transportation to another level.

Thanks to imagination, much music has the ability to trigger travel to alternate worlds, where excitement, understanding, and lush visuals buoy you on the seas of fantasy.

Imagination is the vehicle by which you are transported inside whatever medium that claims your focus.  For a time, you are in the painting, the photograph, the concerto, or John Coltrane, improvising on "My Favorite Things" with a soprano saxophone.  You are a sponge, absorbing whatever story or novel you are reading, prowling the U.P. or Upper Peninsula of Michigan with Jim Harrison, on the alert for hidden bottles of peppermint schnapps, cached away by his characters against the possibilities of toothache.

With work and focus, you are able to achieve transportation inside your own paragraphs, whether such blog riffs as these or the more nuanced threading of fiction.

Imagination, reading, understanding, and communication are all variations on the theme of meditation, where the writer no longer considers himself the creator of the characters and their agendas and responses.  Rather, the writer becomes one with his dramatis personae and their story, escorted past the security guards of editorial oversight, finding his way by the reflections of inner light.

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