We had an interesting speaker at a recent virtual church service. She asked us what we envisioned as our internal landscape, our inner place of peace. People had many fascinating responses.
Mountain lake: cool, clear water, with Tall old groves of trees.
I would be an open sky FULL of stars!
The undergrowth- I am creating the path to the reality I hope for.
A still, clear lake.
A forest trail.
I’d be a tall craggy mountain covered with ice and frozen.
A nest in a tree of dense leaves
I would be a valley surrounded by mountains.
A high vista looking out to sea.
A mountain ridge.
An Andean hilltop village.
A tide flat.
A winding path leading up into the foothills.
Wide ocean beach.
A soft rolling wave
A beloved vegetable garden.
Pacific Ocean being rippled by the waves.
I’d be the subalpine meadows that surround Mount Rainier, covered in wildflowers.
A trail, exposed to hot sunlight and some shade here and there.
An island on the edge of the ocean.
A dark, mossy forest.
An old tree standing in a densely shaded wood.
I am the pathway up the mountain out of the darkness into the light.
A mountain stream… flowing to unknown places…
A sailboat on the Mediterranean.
What I loved about this exercise is that it revealed how unique we all are, while at the same time showing how connected we are to the earth. It reveals that we all have a place of inner peace within us, if only we can tap into it. I think that in these high stress times, we need these internal landscapes now more than ever.
I’ll probably never read this book. It would be too bittersweet for me. Just the little taste in the article made me realize that things could be so much better. It seems too good to be true.
Imagine living in a town where the houses were insulated by straw bales, and therefore didn’t really require much heat or air conditioning. Imagine that all toilets were compostable, and there were solar panels on every roof. Imagine a place with very few cars, where all the bikes were shareable, and where the sidewalks were lined with edible gardens.
Imagine murals and public art everywhere, and green corridors that encouraged wildlife. Imagine publicly owned utilities and transportation and small, sustainable shops rather than grocery stores.
Imagine schools that encourage creativity and flexibility and short term internships in the real world. Imagine a three day work week and a universal basic income.
I can picture this in my mind. What I can’t picture is how to get from here to there. I think it’s possible. I just don’t think I’ll see it in my lifetime. I hope it’s not too late.
What is this fascination that we have with record-breaking things? The tallest building. The deepest ocean, the longest bridge, the highest mountain. We often visit these things when we travel. It’s like we can then claim them. By being there, we win some sort of psychological prize.
When I see the pictures of the crowds of people trying to summit Mount Everest, they make me cringe. You’ve paid tens of thousands of dollars to risk your life. You’ve given up weeks of time to acclimate to high altitudes. And there you are, scuttling amongst a bunch of other people in crowds that are better suited to Times Square during a New Year’s celebration. It defies logic.
We may think we are some higher form of animal, but what we seem to be doing is marking our territory like the average stray dog. I don’t really understand the instinct. It’s exceedingly strange.
But I can’t say I’m immune to it. I recently gazed upon the largest Ponderosa pine in the state of Oregon, and crossed over the longest continuous truss bridge in North America (the Astoria-Megler Bridge). While we didn’t go out of our way to cross this particular bridge (it was on our route), it was beautiful. We did go out of our way to see the tree, which was also pretty amazing. If I had seen a tree that was six inches shorter, though, I’m sure it would have been equally amazing.
You know what? I didn’t feel like a different person after either experience. Neither one was transformative.
I don’t want to discourage anyone from traveling. It’s my reason for being, so who am I to judge? But I think this instinct to see the biggest and the best often makes for a letdown.
This… thing that many of us seem to be searching for is elusive at best, and profoundly disappointing at worst. Nothing tops our imaginations.
“How about guest writing a post for my daily blog? Give me a day off. Please. I’m begging you.”
“I don’t think I’d be compatible with your viewing audience,” was his reply.
That instantly gave me a flashback to my childhood.
“Ma… I’m so bored!” I used to say when I was little. (Especially during the Watergate Hearings. I thought I’d lose my mind.)
“Read a book,” she’d say, “Or go ride your bike. Or write a letter.” Or any of a million other valid suggestions, up to and including, “Clean your room.”
But I usually didn’t want to do those things.
Well, congratulations to my friend, and to the me of my childhood. That means you’re not bored after all. Because if you are truly bored, then you’d jump at the chance to do just about anything. Boredom is for people with no options.
No. What you are is a person who wants to be entertained. That’s a completely different animal. Entertain me! I want it NOW!
What did I expect my mother to say? “Oh, you’re bored? I’m so sorry! Let’s run out and buy you a pony!”
When did we become so eaten up by our own sense of exceptionalism? What makes us so special, that we expect to be entertained every waking minute? Is it because entertainment is usually so readily available these days?
I fear that in this world of instant gratification, we are losing our ability to use our imaginations. While traveling in some of the poorer parts of Turkey, I watched the children there amuse themselves with soda straws and bottle caps, for crying out loud. Can you imagine an American child doing that?
I think we should read more books, write more letters, and ride more bikes. Maybe if we had a chance to experience true boredom, we’d do those things. Maybe we should lock ourselves in empty rooms with a soda straw and a bottle cap, and see what we come up with. It might do us good.
And for the love of GOD, if you have an idea for a guest post, or even just a topic, for this blog, speak up. You’d be amazed at how open I’d be to that idea. I’m not bored. I’m overwhelmed.
I love made up words. The title of this post actually came from a Berkeley Breathed comic strip. Isn’t it fascinating when a word is invented and you know instantly what it means? Creative wordplay makes our language richer.
Another favorite “word” of mine is Douchebaggery. I’m also a huge fan of Youniverse, Textpectation, Unkeyboardinated, and Sproinging.
If you Google “made up words” you’ll come up with dozens of hilarious lists, but all the words therein seem to require definitions. I prefer ones that don’t. Like unforgetaway. And snowpocalypse. And darksome. Ginormous. Sickable, and its near opposites, foodgasm and scrumpdillyicious. Nonversation.
Below are some cute made up words by kids. A good start. These creative writers have big shoes to fill. After all, Shakespeare invented more than 2,000 in his time.
I don’t know why there is any debate on this subject. Time travel exists. Anyone who reads or even daydreams experiences it several times a day.
We go places. I have been to the middle ages. I’ve experienced foreign lands in other times. I’ve met people long gone. I have my jet pack, and have used it more than once, believe you me.
I have seen Mount Vesuvius erupt. I have been at ground zero for the first atomic bomb and for the last. I’ve witnessed the birth of Christ and the deaths of kings. I remember when dodo birds weren’t extinct. I have visited the first colony on mars.
The thing people seem to be so upset about regarding time travel is that they don’t get to bring their bodies along, and they don’t get to arrogantly meddle in time lines.
To that I say, tourists can always find something to whine about. Get over it. Sit back and enjoy the ride.
One of my regular readers, Linda, whom I now consider to be a friend, sent me a link to an article entitled “Stan Lee Taught Me How To Be Amazing” by John Pavlovitz. It is a great read, as is all of his writing.
But my friend made an excellent point. This article was definitely written from the male perspective. As Linda said, “I never once dreamed of being powerful like Spiderman. There weren’t even female superheroes back then, although they did add some later.”
That made me come at the article from a different angle entirely. I love that Pavlovitz could imagine that he was Spiderman when he was growing up. I’m sure that did wonders for his self-esteem. But what was I, and most of the girls of my generation, thinking about back then?
We were Cinderella, or Rapunzel, or Snow White. I doubt many of us related to Wonder Woman, as she was hypersexualized to such a degree that she seemed way out of our leagues. I read Archie Comics. Betty and Veronica weren’t exactly something to aspire to.
There was a lot of damage done to the women of my generation. We weren’t given as much to dream about. It’s not nearly as bad now. Now, we have intelligent, spunky and brave characters, like Ariel and Elsa and Mulan, Elastagirl and her daughter Violet, Fiona, and Hermoine Granger, just to name a few.
And the little girls of today have more ability to connect and learn about some of the amazing kick-ass women in real life, such as Malala Yousafzai, Michelle Obama, and J.K. Rowling.
Lest we forget, there have always been amazing women out there. Anne Frank, Clara Barton, Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Joan of Arc, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart… But my generation wasn’t taught much about them in school, except as afterthoughts and footnotes to the “real” heroes. And we didn’t have the computer access to allow us to track them down ourselves.
Now, at least, girls have more access. Now, at least, animation is catching up with our awesomeness. (Although the sexualization part still tends to rear its ugly head. There’s still a lot of work to do.)
If I were a kid today, I’d totally be out in that back alley, pretending to be Hermoine Granger. Wingardium Leviosa!
I usually forget my dreams immediately upon opening my eyes. But sometimes they’re so fascinating I repeat them over and over in my head until I can write them down. This was such a dream.
In it, I was a writer. (Big stretch, right?) But I was living inside what I wrote. For example, if I wrote of a lush, green forest, one would appear around me. (Yes, I dream in color.) I could conjure butterflies and birds and deer and flowers.
I sat at my writing desk and I created three dimensional, living, breathing art. It was really exciting. It felt as though I was conducting an orchestra and painting a picture at the same time.
And then, I got writer’s block. So I wrote about a coffee table book, and one appeared on my writing table. It was a big, thick one, full of glossy photos. All I had to do was open the book and look at a photo, and I’d be inspired to write about it. And so the creativity continued.
I can’t describe the feeling of contentment and joy I was experiencing. It makes me happy to think that I’m now in a place in my life where such positive dreams are flowing out of my subconscious. It was a creative, problem-solving kind of place. I could have lived in there forever.
And then my dog Quagmire kicked me in the ribs and I woke up. The magical world popped like a soap bubble. Even so, I gave Quag a big good morning hug. That dream made me feel really empowered, but my dog makes me feel loved. So that’ll do quite nicely.
I’m a writer (obviously) so I have a fertile imagination. I spend a great deal of time picturing what my life would be like if this or that person were in it, or if I lived in Paris or Milan, or if I had any number of different jobs. Like my blog description says, I have entirely too much time on my hands.
So you can guess what my brain has been doing lately. As I mentioned recently in my Plea to Seattle Home Sellers, I am house hunting. It’s kind of frustrating in this cutthroat market, but even more so when you are as prone to flights of fancy as I am.
The first step, naturally, is looking at houses on line. I read the descriptions. I look at the photographs. I check out the neighborhood on Google maps. And off I go.
I imagine how my furniture, such as it is, would look in each room. I picture the view I would have. I think about my commute. Most of all, I wonder if my dog will enjoy playing in that particular yard. Will I have to do a lot of yard work? Will I feel safe? Could my new neighbors possibly be as cool as the ones I have now? (Waving at Paula and Kevin and Jackson.) Will I enjoy peace and quiet or will I be shouting over the phone to drown out jet engines? Can I walk to the library? Before I know it, I have my entire life plotted out in my head.
And then I go to see the place. Often, it doesn’t look like the pictures. They’ve used a wide angle lens to make rooms look bigger. They’ve photoshopped the lawn to make it actually look green. They’ve neglected to mention the big blue tarp on the roof.
That, or it’s everything I’ve imagined, and apparently everything everyone else has imagined, too, because the bidding war has jacked the price up 60k beyond my means. And there you have it, another dream crushed. Ashes of a future in my mouth.
Sometimes being creative is a curse.
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It seems that I enjoy torturing myself sometimes. And I have a rich imagination, so I’m good at it. Since I haven’t had a date since my late boyfriend passed away, I sometimes have imaginary dates in my head.
For example, the EMP Museum here in Seattle is currently hosting a Campout Cinema Series where you bring your sleeping bag and pillow, and stretch out on the floor and watch a classic horror movie. That sounds like so much fun. I could imagine snuggling up with someone and eating popcorn and pretending to be scared.
I know what you’ll say. You should go anyway. But watching all the couples getting all romantical while seeing a movie I normally wouldn’t watch anyway does not sound like a good time to me. Sorry. It just doesn’t. A stiff upper lip only carries you so far in this life.
I do this all the time. I imagine how much more fun a restaurant, museum, walk in the park, festival, etc. would be if I were lucky enough to go with someone else rather than be standing there alone. Why on earth do I do this to myself?
A friend of mine says that I really need to learn to enjoy being alone. I need to embrace it. Yeah. Maybe.