Random scribbling before dawn, Part I

I have nothing this morning, except a streak of 271 days, a habit that has become an expectation, and even if I am the only one in the world who expects it (notice I avoided the word “obligation”), it has become important, and that is progress.

All of my life I have worked to meet other people’s deadlines and neglected the ones I set for myself. “I’m going to finish this book by June 11” or “I’m going to meet this financial goal by my birthday in 2019” or “I’m going to lose this weight by Dec. 31.”

The establishment of this daily blog post represents a triumph over my self, and so, even if no one reads it or pushes the Like button, it moves me forward. Have a lovely day, and see you tomorrow.

Each of them a universe

Technology is freedom. The electric toaster changed the universe. The boat opened worlds. Clumping kitty litter saved continents. Paper handkerchiefs saved lives.

Every picture tells a story, a picture worth 1,000 words, they say. But words expand the picture.

Every person who encounters the words hears a different story. How many novels did Harper Lee write? One — and several million.

A closet is full of universes, a shelf is packed with lifetimes, collections of rare gifts waiting to be unwrapped. We each pass this way just once, and forever. What miracles will we unwrap today?

The joy of discovery is endless when we open ourselves to joy; the pain is endless when we focus on the pain. Choose the joy, overcome the pain — open the closet and discover yet another universe.

What’s the point

We spend a lot of time trying to figure out what is our purpose in life. What’s the meaning of “all this”?

You work your way through something day by day and sometimes try to conjure what all the somethings mean: To find a purpose, to find a story, to find a point behind it all — because we all go through life wondering what’s the point? and perhaps not knowing exactly why until the story ends — At the end you tally up whether you served your purpose, or you tally up what the meaning of your life was, based on where life took you.

Who says your purpose has to be singular? An old friend of mine once said, “We each live many lifetimes within the one we live.” Rather than think of it as a frustrating search for our One Big Purpose in Life, maybe we should think of it as a series of adventures trying different purposes out for size.

And maybe someday will say “Yes, this is it, this is The Thing I Was Meant To Do.” When that happens, there’s no point in saying, “Oh, I’m 25 or 43 or 62 or 87 and wasted so much time getting to the point.” The point is you got to the point and you’re here now.

And while trying all that other stuff, surely you made an impact, and certainly that time was not wasted.

Blue Guitar is 1; what’s next


So this weekend is the anniversary of the day I woke up in the morning not intending to publish my next book yet, and it was posted to various bookstores by nightfall.

How To Play a Blue Guitar was a work in progress, and I sat down to proofread what I’d done so far and decided it was a completed book.

I have not made a similar decision about Full, but I have a) a cover and b) an announcement: My next collection is called Full and it ought to appear soon, this spring. Either I’ll give you a date later or it’ll just appear, soft opening style, and then I’ll mention it’s arrived.

How to Play a Blue Guitar

Full is along the lines of A Bridge at Crossroads, Blue Guitar, and Gladness is Infectious, that is to say, a collection of rockets, bells and poetry, most of it drawn from this blog. I am organizing it into three “books” within the book, tentatively titled Creative, Live Free or Die, and Encourage, but now that I have a subtitle (”Rockets, Bells & Poetry”), it’s entirely possible that I will throw that out and retitle the sections Rockets, Bells, and Poetry. What do you think?

A year later, I think How to Play a Blue Guitar holds up pretty well, as a little collection of stories, poems and reflections that somehow gelled into a finished book I didn’t see coming, at least not that quickly.

What’s that? “I thought you were working on a novel called Jeep Thompson and something or other.” Glad you asked. I have covers for the first three books in the series, but I only have words for one-third of a book. On the other hand, from what I’ve got so far, it’s going to be a doozy. Do people still say “doozy”?

Opening scene in a story to be named later

This is why I came: to see if what they were saying was actually true, that there was an alien being up a tree. And well, yes, yes it was.

Perched on a branch was a vaguely human, vaguely insectoid little girl — it may have been a boy, but the long hairlike extensions from her head reminded me of a girl — the legs bent outward from the knees the opposite way from ours, so that the thighs were tucked under the feet stuck out in our direction. The face was fly-like, so it was like looking at someone wearing sunglasses even though the being could probably see us hundreds of times over.

“What do you suppose it wants?”

“What do you think it’s doing here?”

“Has anyone asked it?”

“What do you think we’ve been doing? It just chitters like a chipmunk. It’s scary.”

“Chipmunks aren’t scary.”

“They are when they look like a giant cricket.”

I wasn’t saying any of this, just listening and watching. Everybody was watching the alien girl-thing in the tree, which as far as anyone knew was watching everybody back. Then the media showed up.

Harry Connelly had drawn check-out-the-alien-sighting short straw at the news mosh, and he looked like he had to admit this was better than he deserved. The thing, or the being, certainly was alien, perhaps even out of this world, compared to what he anticipated, which was a quick drive to the park, a little rain in his hair, and a quick drive back to the mosh with nothing to write about and I-told-you-so.

“What is it?” he asked the air.

“What do you think we’ve been wondering?” asked one of the talkers, a woman a little beyond middle age with a purse that dangled on the crook of her arm while she pointed her camera awkwardly at the tree. “I’m getting a video. I figure someone might recognize what it is if I post it.”

A fine whine before journaling

I wanna go back to sleep!

No, young man, you got up early to journal, and journal you shall. What kind of journalist doesn’t faithfully journal?

The kind that wants to snooze!

You’ve been hitting the snooze alarm of life all your life, haven’t you? Oh, I’ll finish that book after I nap, won’t you? I’ll take care of that business or this business later, won’t you. That’s why you’re still working a day job while the rest of your generation is retiring and traveling and enjoying their grandkids, innit?

Well, you’re going to fill your journal this morning, and you — will — like it!

Won’t you?

(Stifles a yawn.) Actually I did not stifle that yawn; I leaned my head back and opened my mouth and closed my eyes, and I enjoyed every bit of that yawn thoroughly.

Choices we make today

A scream of consciousness cuts through the quiet: This is today, isn’t it? The debris from yesterday continues to haunt, and the promises of tomorrow may or may not ring true, but today is here, right on time, to be shaped and formed now, to our pleasure and delight or to our weary horror — here and now, in any case, and ours to have and to hold.

This is today. With an ear for the echoes of yesterday and an eye for tomorrow, we hold today in our hands tightly, but not so tight that it can’t be free and not so loose that it slips away.

This is the day you can make a choice, and this is the day you control your choices. Yesterday’s choices are made, and tomorrow’s choices have not yet presented themselves.

Today, we can choose. Today, we choose. I choose … today. This day. This is.

Gator belongs to Dejah, and what that means

Dejah seems to love her new Gator, and it occurred to me that this is her first toy that is just for her.

All of her previous toys had to be shared with her older sister, Willow, who could be very possessive when she decided any new toy actually was hers. All of those other toys in the house must have a lingering scent of Willow The Best Dog There Is, who became Willow The Best Dog There Was almost a month ago now.

Now, with the presentation of Gator, Dejah knows unequivocally that we bought a toy for her, just for her. And in the first 24 hours since that presentation, she and the toy have been inseparable.

I think I understand this happiness: She knows at last that we love her and wish her happiness. All doubts are cast aside, and the connection is finally made.

Just write

It doesn’t have to be a poem.

It doesn’t have to be a song.

It doesn’t have to be anything,

not yet — just write.

Let loose the hounds of more!

Pour the words onto the page

in quantity, searching for quality,

diamonds in the rough — no, not even that,

just send the words — no, not even,

just pull the words from the ether

and thank the Muse,

just thank the Muse,

and run back to the well

for more

Time enough for your real job

“Come, child, there’s work to do, cease your playing now.”

“But Mah-ahm, this IS my work. A kid’s job is to run and jump and explore and dig and poke and all.”

“Time enough for your ‘real job’ after you finish your chores. You’re almost done anyway, aren’t you?”

“I guess.”

“Then finish up and you’ll have the rest of the day after that.”

“OH. kayyyy …”

He set down his instruments of play and trudged to the corner where his false job awaited, full of lights and humming thinking-machines and the other enemies of his nature.

The door closed.

He sat and looked around the room at the objects he saw every day but never saw. The baseball. The unmounted shelf propped against the wall. The books in their places. The old radio waiting to tell stories.

Outside, above, hundreds of birds tested the air currents and sang a symphony. A glow to the east made the daily promise of illumination. A cool breeze swept in from the lake. He shivered, but more from excitement than the cold — or was it with the peaceful joy of knowing he could be disconnected for most of this day? Mom was right: One more task for the glowing box, and then he’d be free for these hours.

He flipped a switch, shutting off his own flesh-and-blood mind to disappear into the false lights, but he kept his finger near the switch. The true world would be waiting for him.

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