Time to think

Looking out the window, letting my mind wander, gazing up at a sun-splashed mountain. (or is it a hill? I’m never sure.) These are the moments when the mind can free itself from the everyday bonds of necessity. Of requirement. Rather, it should be a requirement to free your mind, and it is necessary to let things go from time to time.

That’s a bit of a ramble, but sometimes it’s what the mind does when it wanders. It wanders, it rambles, it moves from side to side, playing leapfrog with ideas and topics – never focusing on one for long, or, maybe, too long, which can only aggravate and annoy. 

The mind is a supple creation, and it needs downtime to enjoy its suppleness. To revel in the frivolity of thinking just for thought’s sake – not to discover, or contemplate, or decide. Just to think. 

A wandering mind.

We’re told from a young age not to let your mind wander. But why? Out at the periphery, that’s where the best ideas live! They don’t come wandering into the light, asking you to find them. They’d prefer to remain hidden away, coquettishly batting their “eyes”, enticing you out of your comfortable spaces. Ideas, the best ideas, are like love letters from the other side. 

So, yes, let your mind wander. Enjoy the unfocused gaze at something that you find beautiful. And don’t trouble yourself with the moment-to-moment productiveness. Explore the outer reaches, and see what sorts of ideas you may find living there. 

The stream’s tipping point

I’ve been digging into streaming services a bit. With or without the launch of CNN+, the market is saturated with providers and their content. Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Apple+, etc. The list isn’t short by any stretch of the imagination.

Is it more than we can watch? Oh, absolutely! But does it fill a need?

The question isn’t if it’s for everyone. The question is, is there someone (or someones) who will want to watch? As we add more and more streaming content to our internet bandwidth, it’s only a matter of time before we find out where the tipping point actually is.

So much is unknown

Life is a long line of the unknowable. It surprises, upsets, beguiles, upends, and amazes. When we get up each and every morning (or whenever we roll out of bed), the day makes no promises other than, “I am here.”

So what you do, how you do it, the mental acuity you bring to each day – these things change. How well you do something, or recall what you knew, or learn and acquire new information – it can be different from day to day.

But just like that promise, “I am here,” so too should you be.

Many happy returns

When my writings were less sporadic, I’d keep a running commentary of the books I’ve been reading. I got the idea from Nick Hornby’s collected columns, titled Ten Years in the Tub. The past year (or longer), I’ve gotten away from that. But I have been reading, though not nearly as much as I had in 2020. 

There’s a certain joy in writing about books. I mean, I enjoy reading them. Why wouldn’t I enjoy writing about them. Not criticisms, per se. Not synopses either. Just a quick glance at how I feel when reading them, and if there’s something that really stood out to me. 

Recently I was given The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy by Stieg Larsson. I read them over one week, while I was holed up with COVID. I enjoyed them so thoroughly that I gave a set to another friend of mine at Christmas. 

Plenty has already been written about the series, its author, and its protagonist. But the stirring thing for me is the way such a story is able to grab you. 

I read another book a bit more recently, The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Another thriller of sorts, but this one taking place in a New England liberal arts college for the well-to-do, dealing with the ancient Greek traditions of the Bacchae. 

It was okay. Honestly, I found it very easy to read at parts, though a bit of a slow starter and with an ending that left me unsatisfied. But, not all endings can be satisfactory, and I’m not sure it could have ended in any way but the way it did.

Which brings me to Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, which I’m currently reading. All 900+ pages of it. 

And, about three hundred fifty pages in, I have no idea where it’s taking me. But for whatever reason, though it’s a bit of a slog at points, I can’t put it down for longer than a couple days before needing to pick it up again. 

Collective Vocabulary

I was revisiting John McPhee’s Draft No. 4 recently, reading the essay “Frame of Reference”. In it, McPhee mentions collective vocabulary – basically, a shared understanding of the commonplace phrases of the age we live in.

Much of what is considered current in pop culture could be part of this generation’s collective vocabulary. But in doing theatre, and in my love of reading, I’ve discovered item after item that were considered popular at the time. Oklahoma and the popular Shave and a hair cut (tap tah-tah-tah tap): both rely on the phrase “two bits”. What we now call a quarter. 

Now, no one is chopping up a US quarter to make 12.5¢, nor did the US ever make a 1 bit piece (to my knowledge). From my understanding, it comes from the Mexican practice of cutting a peso into eight pieces (or bits). Since the Mexican peso and US dollar were practically equivalent, the phrase was adopted and became a part of the collective vocabulary.

Ukraine

I don’t have much of a perspective. There’s a lot of news out there, and there is a lot happening. 

But, Ukraine is in trouble. And it feels like not enough is being done to assist it. 

I don’t know if the answer is more military support. Wars are not what anyone should be aspiring to. But at the same time, such an incursion and unprovoked assault should be dissuaded as immediately as it possibly can.

In search of new worlds

Humanity is hardwired for exploration. Perhaps it’s remeniscent of our times of hunting and gathering. Perhaps it’s latent curiosity. Perhaps it’s something else entirely. Either way, we are constantly seeking out new horizons. As the captain of the Enterprise used to say, “To seek out new worlds and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before.”

When you consider the vastness of our planet, and the brevity of our individual existence, wouldn’t it be inconceivable to not explore?

When the mind leaves us

Occasionally, writers suffer writer’s block. Now, is it sensible? Absolutely not. Everyone has words racing through their minds at least most of their waking hours. Sitting down at the blank page, saying that they can’t think of anything, that seems pretty ridiculous, right?

What actually happens, I believe, is that they feel what they are thinking of is nonsensical, or stunted, or just plain not good. They edit themself before even putting it on paper. 

I’ve got stacks and stacks of documents like that – words of mine that I believe inferior to what I’m capable of, or maybe that I’m even ashamed of. Shame in quality, or content, or length, or whatever.

The first draft – it isn’t easy. 

And the first draft of these posts – I mean, that’s why I’m tapping at the keys now. Trying to figure out what exactly this is? These musings of mine. They’re short, I guess, meditations on whatever it is that happens to cross my mind. 

And my mind’s scope is, for better or worse, exceptionally wide. I’ll often take off on tangents of study for weeks at a time, only to abandon the endeavor and pounce off down a new path following something tangentially different. Thus, my mind leaves me wondering, “What next?”

That, I suppose is a very good way to end it, and an excellent prompt for the next piece.

What next?

Back to blogging

It’s been a bit of a wild ride this past year, with an on-again, off-again attention to my blog. And this will be my first official post of 2022, though I had started and stopped several year round ups.

I guess the question I have, then, is what I’m hoping to achieve by writing here? As I’ve said previously, it’s a place to hone my practice, let out ideas, and ship a product, albeit in very small dosages. The past year has had me working mostly in the creative field, and I’m very excited to be continuing that trend this year.

As for my writing, I suppose I need to accept it as a part of my daily routine again, lest it slip away (again).

This Christmas

For the first time in, well, ever, I spent Christmas alone. I was, unfortunately, the recipient of a birthday-case of COVID, my birthday being two weeks prior.

As I sat and pondered the pandemic, the holidays, family, and all that it entails, I guess the thought arose that has been a driving factor for millennia. 

What makes a happy and meaningful life?

Now, this is obviously a much bigger question than anyone knows how to answer. It’s one that has been debated probably since the very first debates. 

What I’ve come up with, in this new solitude, is that happiness is constantly in flux, and meaning is what you give to your own life. How you view yourself is how you act, and how you act is who you are.

So, be happy? Merry Christmas. Don’t get sick. I’ll see you next year.