Monday, March 30, 2015

Just Passing through--You Hope

In the morning, while you await the rush of boiling water that will jostle its way past the grounds of coffee and on its way to becoming espresso, you are in the hovering state known as limbo.You are aware of being awake, but not as complete in the process as you might wish.  

You are in an indeterminate now that wants coffee.  But the coffee is still in its evolutionary state. You in effect are stuck, waiting for the indeterminate now, and the still-evolving coffee to align. At such moments, you think of the apt-but-abstract paradox of Schrodinger's Cat.  With you as the cat.

When you have finished a project, formatted it, then sent it off, you are in that no-person's land of limbo, wondering if you will ever again visualize a thing so sumptuous as that last work, indeed wondering if you will ever work again. Each new work calls for what is essentially the relearning of such craft as you might have.  This limbo involves the wonder if you will even be able to accomplish the state of being derivative of your earlier self.

When you watch from your ringside seat at a battle between your needs and your conscience, no need to sit down so the spectators behind you can see; like you, those spectators are in limbo.

Limbo is neither here nor there, even though it resonates with qualities of each, conveying at once the senses of familiarity and home with the tug and magic of elsewhere, that remarkable and different country where you have sought residence all your life.  

The sidewalks of limbo are painted with shrewd, devilish trompes l'oeil, those mischievous tricks of perception and judgement that lead you to think you are stepping down on something other than what it appears to be, or sidestepping to avoid landing with all your weight on an illusion of a caterpillar or a lobster or a sleeping cat.

A person in limbo is a person who may be described as torn, or perhaps stretched, or even drawn.  The quality of ductility comes to you mind when thinking of limbo; a person who is being exerted to the limits of tensile and ductile strength.  Of the elements you know any small thing about, the most ductile is copper, able to be extended, extruded, if you will, into a long, thin strand.  

Characters are caught in various limbos such as waiting for a thing to happen, a person to make a decision, a thing to change.  There is certainly a limbo in the individual who is trying to decide when to cross the line from timidity or, worse yet, passivity, into a decisive, game-changing activity.

Of the individuals you know who seem to have this capacity for being stretched, you do not rank much beyond a five or six on a one-to-ten scale.  This means you suffer a sense of your circulation system being carbonated, your entrails tingling with a massive unrest. You wonder if you are at this midpoint five because you are a writer or because you are caught in the personality tug-of-war. 

There is a good-news/bad-news dialectic with regard to limbo.  If this quality becomes successfully embedded within characters in a story, the narrative seems to grow with the potential for being memorable and, by degrees, poignant and funny.  This is the good news.  Most writers you know are keen to look for tools that will allow them to produce more memorable story.

The bad news is that you as writer have to experience the tidal tug of limbo in order to transfer it to the character you mean to demonstrate it.  If more than one character has this presence of being in limbo, you must experience it for each.

With luck, you will, at day's end, be able to leave limbo on your note pad or computer screen, but on reflection about story limbos and reality-based limbos where you've tried out the bed and breakfast accommodations, you can see why so many writers have had notable appetites for booze or herbals

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