Monday, February 2, 2015

Slipping on the Black Ice of Story

You would not think much about the present season being winter. There are too many distractions here, within the bubble of the Central Coast of California, where you live, reminding you how living in a bubble can be enough to keep a person busy without the need to consider weather.

  Temperatures are in the early 70s, such rains as there have been are mild, at best persistent over a matter of hours rather than entire days.  The landslide at the county line on Highway 1 seems a lone anomaly.  Pear trees are blooming nearby, the flowering rosemary are a jumble of active bees,

Until you read the fine print on the fruit labels in the markets, the variety and appearances seem bring, Spring-like if not Summery.  But when you bore in, you see the trade routes between here, Mexico, Chile, and Peru have been well traveled.  Piles of avocado, plums, pears, oranges and cherries clamor for your attention. which is given with good cheer.

Living in a bubble has advantages such as this sense of perpetual Spring.  News of incessant snow, clogged streets, impassable highways and roads, and temperatures lingering close to wind-chill-driven minus Fahrenheit seem as unreal to you as the individuals now suffering them find your Winter of content.

In the oddness of irony so often attendant on your focus on reading, watching performances, and writing your own narratives of fiction and opinion, you are made more aware of the bubble in which you live by reports of black ice in other parts of the world, descriptions of how black ice is formed, even suggestions of ways to navigate on it by auto or on foot.  Black ice tends more to translucency and clarity,  black only in the appearance of the asphalt it covers.

With black ice everywhere but in your immediate bubble there is the distraction of a metaphor, drawing you into a long, reflective trance, reminding you of times you were caught in medias res by one or both parents, meditation on the edge of your bed, one sock on, the other poised but nowhere near its intended target.  "The sockless wonder,"  your father used to call you.  "All right, where were you?  And don't say 'Out," because I'm not going to let it go at that."

You did not always know where you'd been, and so you began making up destinations.  Now that you think of it, this could have been a stepping stone to your fondness for exotic settings and reasons for visiting them,  When questioning where you'd been, your father was not wanting to know from any motive other then curiosity; he was not a control freak.  Often, when you'd offer up an impromptu description of a place you hadn't been, he'd say, "That sounds like a nice place."

Although you've had adventures driving in snow, with and without snow chains, you've to date not had serious mishaps with black ice as such.  When black ice creeps into metaphor and your treads of focus begin to loose traction,  things have a way of catching you, much as you were caught in the past.  "Where were you?  And don't say, 'Out.'"

You've in effect developed muscles that help you connect apparently unrelated elements.  This is often the first step in a process where you are transported to a landscape which so fascinates you, there's nothing for it but to attempt to capture it in the words.  Just as the words of conversation are not the words of dialogue, the words of story are not the words of reality.  These story words need something more.

The "something more" is the thing that impresses you about actors, their ability to concentrate.  However simplistic and reductionist it is to say so, you will say that a major factor in an actor's ability to act is her or his ability to focus, to concentrate.

When you are, as it were, putting on your socks, you are entering that place of concentration.  When you are in actual composition, the surest key that you are in focus and concentrating is the realization--when you return to earth--of the time elapsed, the time you were "away," or "in" the story.

The great battle before you is trying to get better focus on those moments when you are distracted from a chore at hand.  A laugh a minute, right?  You, trying to learn concentration, being distracted from concentration.

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