A call from the muse

call from the muse

On a morning when each breath draws bright icicles into the soul came a knock on the heart’s door.

“Hey! It’s me! Your inner Bradbury,” came a child’s voice like a warm breeze. “Take me for a spin with a pair of new sneakers unleashed on the meadow next door, like a rocket on the launch pad gathering fuel for one grand push against the Earth, like an old lady with a gleam in her eye who tells of mysteries no little girl or boy can fathom.

“Run across fields full of stars and buzzing sounds that come from nowhere and everywhere. Take me anywhere, but take me – send me on an adventure, share a nugget of joy in the living, in the finding, in the exploring, for it’s a good world to live, find and explore.

“Settle on a distant planet only to find the challenges of men and women don’t change so much just because the scenery is different, but yes they do because the scenery is different, and yet humans are still humans.

“Do anything with me, your inner Bradbury, but don’t neglect me, for there’s the path to old age.”

“I guess I am getting old,” I replied. “But not so old that I would purposefully neglect you, old friend.”

And I reached up for a book.

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Dandelions again

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I am “reading” Dandelion Wine again, this time while flying down the highway, with tears in my eyes loving the images and the words and the turns of phrase of my yes-I-have-a-favorite favorite book.

I realize I don’t want exactly to share the book with you – although I do – as much as I want you to experience the feeling this book gives me. I hope, if not this book – and probably not because the effect Dandelion Wine has on me is as much a product of my life I have lived and the words can never strike you quite the way they struck me – I hope that somewhere in your experience you find a book that touches you to the core the way Dandelion Wine touches me, because oh, what a joy it is, and I would be a callous and selfish man indeed to hold this feeling close to my heart and never share it.

I hope there is a book somewhere that will bring you to joyous tears as this book does so often to me.

“Because I am alive”

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Quite a few famous people have died in 2016. Quite a few famous people die every year; one of the regular features of the Academy Awards is a review of all the great actors and filmmakers who have passed in the previous year, and it’s always overwhelming how long the list is.

Somehow people seem to be taking it harder this year. The sad and sudden deaths of George Michael and Carrie Fisher in recent days provoked an outpouring of grief not only for those two fine talents but for all of the people who passed this year – David Bowie, Prince, George Martin, Muhammed Ali, Leonard Cohen … Continue reading

Look around you! See the amazing!

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Why am I writing this down? To share my awe.

Every object in this cluttered room is an end product of a person’s vision, of collaborators’ efforts, of painstaking hours and years. Here in this room are centuries of human achievement – and this is a modest-sized room. Multiply by billions and see what we have made, what we have done – what you and I are capable of, should we choose to do so.

A fine cabinet that houses a miraculous device that pulls voices from the air – why did we stop encasing our electronic devices in fine furniture? A handle that pulls water from under the ground to sustain or clean us. A machine that cools or freezes the air to preserve perishable food – a machine that heats the air to preserve perishable living beings.

A tube that fits in my hand and discharges ink evenly so I can share these thoughts and ramblings. Devices and gadgets that allow me to attach related pieces of paper to one another. A well pump or a paper clip – works of genius.

Perhaps that is why I write – why Bradbury writes – why writers write – to share amazement. To wake you up. To shake your soul and say, “Look around you! See the amazing!”

In the palm of your hand is a passport to the universe, a portal to collections of all human knowledge and achievement – all right there for your convenience. Of course now I’m specifically talking about a smartphone, but in a real sense every object made by human hands is such a portal.

Every shoe, every bottle, every souvenir knickknack – all are souvenirs from a moment of time, from centuries of learning and achievement, every cardboard box a solution to a problem – what an amazing pack of creators we are, and how sad that we waste so much time tearing things down.

“I made this!” cries the child. See what she has made. Cherish her creation and her creativity. Celebrate the builder – and understand that we are all builders. We are here to create, to reach across rivers and plains and mountains and oceans, to create a bridge to the stars.

We can do these things. We can find the path to understanding it all. What shall we create today: harmony or dissonance?

Choose the awesome.

When I tap my inner Bradbury

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I am not coy and make no apologies about the influence of Ray Bradbury on my writing. Obviously I am no Bradbury, but he is the kind of writer I aspire to be. His phrases sing, his joy and enthusiasm are infectious, and at his best he transports me to another place.

When I tap my inner Bradbury, I fly across fields – tramp through ravines and deep woods – jump on rickety old summer porches that creak underfoot but are somehow rock solid – I launch into space feeling the pressure of G-forces, or I watch with hands clenched tight to chain link as the rocket sparkles into the night with a roar – I land on a distant shore and plant the flag of Tomorrowland – I hear the whisper of the long dead (or recently dead) just beyond my range of hearing – I jam with words as my notes and the pen as my musical instrument, a symphony of syllables, a ballad old as life – a butterfly’s wings beat down a lighthouse thousands of miles and millions of years away.

Do I still know who you are today, after I go back in time and comb my hair the other way on a certain day? Does yesterday happen if I change the day before?

Turn around, turn around, turn around and it’s 60 years later, and who would ever guess this is what would have become of that child? Flash and it’s 50 years later, and the stories I was reading on paper are up on the big screen. Boom and it’s 40 years later, and the arrogant young man finally understands why he was alone for so long.

Thirty years gone and the colleagues have been scattered but still love those times and each other. Twenty years ago I was in this same place, not knowing how much better it would become after a few wrong steps. Ten years ago I knew I would do what I was doing forever, never guessing exactly when forever would arrive.

And now, here and now, sitting in a place called Crossroads, I stare into the blue sky and look around at the trees, and hear the traffic of cars and trucks not far away on their way to myriad destinations, and I feel a spark of fear over what may come next – but it turns into a grin.

Life – it’s life that comes next. Where there’s life there’s hope, Samwise Gamgee once said – a statement that has resonated and buoyed me through the years.