Detours into the Past

I keep a hand-written journal.

I love the feel of the paper and the color of whatever pen I carefully select (happen to grab). There’s an intimacy with using them that I don’t find with a computer. I slow down for a little while. Handwriting is necessarily slower than using a keyboard. If the mood strikes, I doodle alongside the writing or within the writing, turning letters or words into flowers, animals, or knotwork. I like the variety of bindings and covers available for blank books.

Once in a while, it’s good to go back through retired journals. Sometimes, it’s for no more reason than to check whether what I’m remembering at the moment is the same as what I wrote when it actually happened, either an incident or bit of dialog. Sometimes, it’s for seeing whether or how much I’ve grown or changed in my thinking, where I might still be stuck and where I’ve moved on.

Because…because on a daily basis, I often don’t have enough time for introspection. The journal enforces as well as records it.

My faith has grown and my confidence has grown. So has my ability to accept that I’m not perfect and won’t be this side of heaven. I’m less of an extrovert than I’d like to be, and there are plenty of areas where I’m not as sensible as I should be by now. My hackles still go spiky at the words It can’t be done. I laugh at myself more easily and more frequently than I could at any decade younger.

On the occasional excursion into past years, transformations and illuminations become apparent.

• Idolatry for my job came crashing down. An injury ended my ability to make a living with the job that was everything to me.
Epitaph: Here lies a toppled god; its fall rocked my world.

• I ranted about my dogs locking me out of the house an hour before I had to get ready for work. Note to self: never, ever step out the door without a key.

• I articulated why I have difficulty getting attached to places. Thirty moves in about a fifteen year span makes for shallow roots.

• My latent tendency to be a smart aleck blossomed. I told my sister an excavation site for a building was an open pit dirt mine. Ten minutes later, she smacked me. 😀

• A coworker said I reminded him of three people: Mother Theresa, Red Skelton, and Attila the Hun. I spent four entries trying to figure that out — three entries less than when another coworker told me I was too weird for words. Guilty as charged.

• I realized I could choose to be content, happy, joyful no matter what circumstances I faced. Oddly, I didn’t note what was happening at the time, what had prompted that entry. But it was a very good choice.

And weaving around and through trials and triumphs, questions and revelations, the condition of my soul or my hangnail, there are snippets of story ideas, characters, and phrases uniquely mine. Themes and motifs dominant in my writing show up clearly with hindsight.

Of course, hindsight is always 20/20.


Flip-flops & Clayfeet

A couple of years ago, I started a blog. I’d thought I would start with something lofty or profound: My Thoughtful Insights on God, Faith, Family, Friends, Humanity, Country, or the Environment — a weighty introduction about my Philosophy of Life.

Never got around to that. Lofty doesn’t suit me – I have too many streaks of clown and rambler. If I’m interested in something, I have the tenacity of a terrier going after a bone, a ball, or vermin. Otherwise, I have the boredom threshold of a three-year-old.

I was born in a summer month but summer isn’t friendly to me. Oh, I appreciate summery things. I like flowers, fruits & veggies, thunderstorms, the canopy of trees. I have great memories of bicycling, horseback riding, camping, and picnics. But my internal thermostat isn’t reliable and I get heat sick easily. I can always layer on more for the cold months, but there’s only so much undress anyone can do without being arrested for indecent exposure. Me in a bikini might constitute domestic terrorism or public nuisance.

I’d bought my first pair of flip-flops — yellow and hot pink — since 1972. It was a great relief from toaster-oven socks when the temps climb into the upper 90’s (and beyond) and the heat index is in triple digits. I don’t like the hot concrete & pointy rock folk dance in bare feet, but, even after a couple of years, I’m not used to the feel of the straps or the clop-clop-clop they make when I walk. That first pair turned into a tug-of war toy for my dogs, so they never got a chance for the rubber to petrify long before they molded to my arches, high enough to drive a car under.

Although this year isn’t the furnace or sauna of so many Midwest summers, I dream for the cycle turning to days of flannel shirts under sweaters, wool britches, and half-inch thick legwarmers. I dry sweat from my hands and pick wool clean to felt for new house-boots or crochet new armwarmers, legwarmers, and hats. I work, dream, create — draw, paint, and write.

There’s a volcano in my brain. Stories, characters, images of scenes erupt constantly. If I were faster at typing, drawing, painting I might be able to capture them all, give them their voices, their portraits, their landscapes. Alas, I’m turtle slow and a touch arthritic so they have to wait their turn in the queue. But on the days when the volcano transforms into a pinball machine — sweet! Every ding-ding-ding of completion means a score for another play.

Rim Garrison 2 — ding, new play.  Astra Ventusding, new play. Troll Bridge — ding, new play. Tools of the Trade — ding, new play.  Etude’ on the River — ding, new play. Inspiratumding, new play. Drowing in a Sea of Suns — ding, new play. Suntosun Shipping — ding, new play. Catalystica – ding, new play.  Runes of Stars and Storms — ding, new play. 

Ding-ding-ding — bonus points. The play now is this new blog, logging the journey of a clay-footed wanderer in life and in the lands between my ears. For this season, I wander realms in flip-flops; next season, it’ll be tennis shoes and boots. I listen for the rumble of the volcano, the ding-ding of the pinball machine. But most of all, I ignore the clop-clop of summer footwear and listen for the voice at the center of all my wandering.

And to travelers who would journey with me, I wave a hearty welcome.