I am sitting here in front of a blank screen with so many thoughts that my mind is blank.
Contrast. You can only see the dark, because there is light and the shadow draws our focus to the light. In the silence there is thundering music, while the crescendo of the symphony takes me to that mountain top with only the wind.
Friday night I finished reading Anthony Doerr’s novel, All the Light We Cannot See. Was there ever a more perfect title? The story draws you in as it weaves its way through war. Present and past blur. A blind French girl. A German boy. An ogre. A war. A legend. The cost of survival. Tragedy so beautifully written. A story I won’t forget and a lesson in words that I will never achieve, but will strive for.
When my mind doesn’t work, I work with my hands. I finished two pieces of marquetry yesterday. Carefully my knife retraces the line in the wood. Slowly the fibers are cut as the knife descends through the layers and a piece of veneer is freed. It’s meditative. It’s creative. It’s slow and quiets the busyness of my mind.
Last Sunday …
Yesterday I cut marquetry with the scroll saw. It’s fast. Noisy and quick. Clamps and glue and the box has a beautiful lid. While the glue dries I think of my long-suffering novel. First and last chapters done. Outline complete, but the narrative speaks only in the quiet strokes of my knife against the veneer of my box. At the keyboard my fingers can’t translate the knife strokes to key strokes.
Last Sunday I wanted to write a new scene for my novel. I’ve imagined a scene where my hero Colin is near death, walking through the desert. In the distance he sees a vision – is it coyote? Or a horse? Perhaps a person on a horse. Heat rising from the noon sun obscures his failing vision just before …
I didn’t because …
This Sunday Heather and I went to see a movie, Book Club. It was fun and had some of my favorite actresses – Bergen, Fonda, Keaton, Steenburgen. A story of sex, love and the search for both. A bit predictable, but ending is satisfying. I didn’t really count, but I think I was one of four men in the crowded theater. The ladies loved it, if you judge by the volume of their laughter. I wanted to explain to them that Viagra doesn’t work that way. Okay, it was a funny scene, but only in the movies.
I went to the shop and my hands didn’t want to work.
So I thought it was time to write. Perhaps something moving about a novel I read. Perhaps something funny about a movie and a blue pill. Perhaps how creativity in one art informs another. Then there’s this scene about a man at a campfire wearing a coyote hat telling children a story about the myth of Colin.
But I can’t get past last Sunday. I was putting the tea cups in the sink and preparing my mind for my weekly writing time, when I saw this cat standing in our front yard. It was trying to drink from a bucket. Our cats were all safely inside. A neighbor’s cat most likely that needs shooing home. I pointed it out to Heather.
There was something wrong. The little thing staggered a little – barely able to walk. It looked diseased and confused. Heather and I went out together. The creature’s fur was matted, is stomach shrunken in starvation, and it’s whiskers bent, broken – possibly burnt. I went out and filled the bucket with water. The cat tried to drink. It may have gotten some, but not enough for it’s need.
It was clear that the creature needed medical help or was possibly beyond all help. We got a cat carrier from the shed and I put on gloves. The cat was nothing but fluff with beautiful green eyes. It let me place it in the carrier and then in the car. We drove to the animal shelter where I made them promise to help – one way or the other.
I spent last Sunday night lecturing my cats on how lucky they are to have a home and a family that loves them. Then I’d think of walking through that cold windy parking lot at the shelter, knowing I was carrying a little life I couldn’t save.