To FRAP or not to be

Ray Bradbury, of course, had the best, most counterintuitive advice about writing wonderfully crafted stories: “Don’t think.” 

+ + +

“So don’t think!” he cried.

“Don’t think about what?” asked his companion. 

“That’s the spirit!”

And with that, he broke into a full-fledged sprint. He dashed across the front yard and down the slope. He dashed past a willow tree, then another, and the third. He raced past patches of wildflowers that were growing and growing, he sprinted past the pear trees and the old wooden bench. He ran into the woods and kept running, coming to a huffy stop in a clearing with an old plastic chair that one dare not sit in.

His companion limped up beside him.

“And just what” — deep heaving breath — was that all about?”

“I had to,” he said. “Haven’t you sometimes just had to bust out of yourself and run to the next county, or at least just MOVE? They even have a name for it when puppies do it — FRAP: Frenetic Random Activity Periods. A puppy will run in circles from one end of the house to the other in back, or they’ll do laps in the back yard. They just have to move without thinking. You never had to break out of yourself?”

“I guess I understand the concept, but I never ran a half-mile like we just did.”

“And wasn’t it glorious?”

“I’d have to think about it.”

“No, that’s the whole point! Don’t think! Just go, and see where you turn up. Maybe you’ll jump on a spaceship to Mars, or you’ll land in the next town and discover and old-fashioned candy store selling chocolate coins in gold wrappers — or you’ll climb to the top of the stadium bleachers and look around for miles and miles at a horizon you never imagined could be so far away — or you’ll find a quiet place so quiet you finally understand silence.”

[Does it have to be like this?]

“Now where did THAT voice come from?”

[Over here, where I’m being the change I want in the world. It’s kind of lonely, and I can’t believe I’m the only one who wants this change, but, like I said, lonely.]

“Oh, you’re not alone wanting that change, lonely one. It’s just that you’re the only one who is ‘being’ that change. ‘Be the change you want to be in the world’ is one of those things that’s easy to say and oh-so-difficult to do. That doesn’t mean it’s fruitless, and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.”

[I think you may have something there.]

“Don’t think,” he smiled. “Just be.”

Published by WarrenBluhm

Wordsmith and podcaster, Warren is a reporter, editor and storyteller who lives near the shores of Green Bay with his wife, two golden retrievers, Dejah and Summer, and Blackberry, an insistent cat. Author of Echoes of Freedom Past, Full, Refuse to be Afraid, Gladness is Infectious, 24 flashes, How to Play a Blue Guitar, Myke Phoenix: The Complete Novelettes, A Bridge at Crossroads, The Imaginary Bomb, A Scream of Consciousness, and The Imaginary Revolution.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: