Friday, October 14, 2011

Creative Lassitude

After 11 trips to Europe, 5 to Canada and visiting 26 states it’s time to stay put. With 169 years between us Peggy and I are spent, done with airports, security gates and jet lag. From now on any traveling we do will be expeditions within. It’s less expensive and easier on the bones. Some might call it a shut-ins’ retreat from the world; I call it sedentary frenzy.

We read (silently and aloud), correspond with a number of friends, write poetry and blogs and watch DVDs. New territories on no map are discovered in our vast interiors. And then there are daily lunch dates, two play-reading groups, Emeritus classes, monthly Sunday Salon and a bi-weekly poetry peer group. How else to ponder the human predicament in a godless world?

My day begins with a prolonged waking up. Those minutes tunneling out of sleep, stretched into an hour in the semi-wakeful state yield precious nuggets. The muscle of the imagination flexes and roams the cave walls. Retirement has extended this realm of dreams where associative images are most accessible. It‘s reason enough to take a nap during the day…just to gain that extra getting-up time.

Reading is a creative act. The inanimate book becomes alive when opened and read. The interaction begins. I could be happily transported to some version of Eden or find myself kicking and screaming as I’m carted off. It brings long-dead authors back to life. Their voices cast a spell. It’s a flight on Trans-Faulkner or Dickens Air Line. I remember settling on the couch and being so astonished with the virtuosity of William Gass I knocked over the lamp.

When we write we enter another country and become fluent in some second language. If we're lucky we wonder where it came from and barely recognize it as our own. It may speak back and even reveal aspects we thought we’d disowned or never possessed.

On the other hand the ultimate end of the poem is silence. It is a composition beyond telling as if we are deposited in a Tangiers Kasbah or on a Prague street in wonderment knowing that our tongue is past wagging. We can only listen to the clamor of the marketplace and meet it with a certain silence of our own commotion.

One can Google an avalanche on his way to oblivion. This is my prescription: to tame the noisy beast while remaining selectively alert making room for my own instrument, my voice, to sing. The busyness of our days is our own choosing; It is neither frenzy nor lassitude but a state beyond telling.

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