Ah fiction. It has so much truth to tell…
They were running hand in hand, and the Queen went so fast that it was all Alice could do to keep up with her: and still the Queen kept crying “Faster! Faster!”… The most curious part of the thing was, that … however fast they went, they never seemed to pass anything…. “In our country,” said Alice, … “you’d generally get to somewhere else—if you ran very fast for a long time as we’ve been doing.”
“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.”
Funny, I was rooting for Alice. Not to pass anything, but to pass any one, because that is where I run. Not to get to somewhere, but to get ahead of someone. Who has the patience to fall in behind that slow car in the slow lane when there are so many places I need to get?
Alas, what if I set that vehicle on cruise control at the speed limit and thought no more about it? No worries about the police vehicle parked on the median. No concern about the motorist who stomps on the gas to power by me. No angst about the destination I will arrive at in measured time.
Imagine the worlds I might create with that clean sheet of brain space released on its own recognizance, free to travel wherever it pleased, all the while headed in the right direction?
I want to have written the story that changes peoples’ lives, not write it!
Oh, it’s not about the fame and fortune, nor about the accolades and acclaim. I just want people to read what I write and see themselves in it, only better. I want them to see their family members in a new light or their lives go in a new direction, their circumstances navigable and what now seems impossible, possible.
The problem is, writing it always comes before having written it and, very truly I tell you, what comes before all of that is living it. This is the problem with writing from imagination, it’s real. And finding the truth there is hard. But it is the magic of letting one’s mind wander to far off places, filled with random characters and creatures. Except it’s not random at all. It’s ordered.
That’s the paradox of imagination: we restore order through imagination. We put things to rest, explain the confounding and often re-write the ending we wished for but that never came to be. So much comfort.
But is that fantasy? Is it escapism? Are we avoiding the truth?
I don’t think so. In fact, it may be the best way to approach the truth. First, with beauty and aesthetics, re-creating the real draws us in and makes us smile. How brave is that boy! How insightful is that girl. How ingenious is that Nanny. Oh, and so fun! Yep, Mary Poppins it is, and how delightful is that “Disney ending.”
But life doesn’t consist of Disney endings. Get real!
What if the real requires imagining? Consider,
I believe our task is to develop a moral and aesthetic imagination deep enough and wide enough to encompass the contradictions of our time and history, the tremendous loss and tragedy as well as greatness and nobility, an imagination capable of recognizing that where there is light there is shadow, that out of hubris and fall can come moral regeneration, out of suffering and death, resurrection and rebirth. Richard Tarnas
Not just an aesthetic imagination but a moral one? With the one we create what might be. With the other, we consider what God might have meant. Put the two together, and it has the power to change lives.
I want to have written the story that changes people’s lives, but that one’s taken. Now, to consider what God might have meant.
I have two very old dogs, a 14 year old golden retriever named Rosy and a nearly 12 year old Siberian husky named Silver. All you have to do is see ’em to love ’em.
They are old friends. Faithful, well except for Silver’s many excursions out of the yard, and true. They don’t hear so well anymore, but when they see you they are ever so happy to greet you. Unfortunately, they both have crotchety old hips. Rosy was born with them. Silver just developed them, long about the time when I injured my hip. Perhaps it was a bit of solidarity.
The two of them have been having a hard time climbing the few steps from the garage into the house. So, we did (rather my husband did with my encouragement and design consultation) what any responsible pet owner with 2 old dogs would do; we built a ramp for them to climb. So they needn’t navigate the steps.
At first, it was too steep.
Then, it was too slippery.
Then, it was just right.
But of course, they preferred the steps.
So, we got a piece of plywood to block the steps. Then, with much cajoling and bribery, we finally got each of them to make the descent ever so tenuously down the ramp. Then all we had to do was get them to choose the ramp on the way up. Which we did, eventually, with much herding and calling – that for our own sake because they don’t really hear us.
So now, 2 weeks in, we still must go out ahead of them and place the plywood across the stairs like a baby gate so they will choose the way that’s healthier for them. The old dogs’ way. The easy way. And my husband asks, “Do you think they’ll ever choose the ramp on their own?”
Which begs the question of the day, perhaps of our day, “Can you ever teach an old dog new tricks?” Because just telling them it’s good for them will not cut it.
Ah, it’s so much easier to remain firmly in our old ways. But the times, they are a -changin’. And so, I guess, must I. I’d like to stick with what I know, even if it’s not the best or most effective way, because I know how to do it. I’d like just to plunk words on a page, or a computer screen. But they tell me that no one reads just words in blogs anymore. You have to have at least a photo or two.
So, I went back and put in the dog photos and the ramp photos. Better? Yes, you can see them. And who has time to write beautifully descriptive prose these days? Prose that would do those two dogs justice?
But the ramp event… The snap shots, even the blurry ones, don’t cut it. For those I really need video. Yes, video captures the movement in the moment. These darn online editors tell me I need to create that!
Man, can’t we just freeze things? Just pick something that works and stick with it? It was so nice and easy back before we didn’t have to change with the times. Didn’t have to deal with all these innovations. Hmm, flexibility may be more of a component of fitness than I thought.
Feeling kind of creaky this morning. Guess that makes me an old dog. But I hope there is still a place for beautiful words, told thoughtfully and truthfully and meaningfully. Aahhh, 3 adverbs in the same sentence!! But I have to admit that the photos (and okay, one day I’ll get videos) do add a lot to my story. I just wonder how much room they leave for yours – which is the beauty of a story well written or a tale well told. It leaves room. For the imagination. Or the cream in your Starbucks coffee. Whichever.
This morning I woke to a couple of flashes in my darkened bedroom. I didn’t know they were lightning until I heard the thunder. Then I knew I had to rush to let the dogs in. They’re deathly afraid of thunder, even though they are basically deaf. Perhaps it’s the lightning. It does startle and suggest supernatural visitors. I was describing the scene to my daughter over breakfast and she said, “Mom, you’re a good storyteller.”
She has a great imagination that one. And she already knows the dogs.