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.




About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
This entry was posted in General, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Contrast

  1. Pingback: Thursday After Tuesday | Andrew's View of the Week

  2. Pat Bean says:

    This post earned a Bean Pat as blog pick of the day. Check it out at

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: The Write Words: Rod McKuen | Pat Bean's blog

  4. CJ Hartwell says:

    You had a full day and you shared it beautifully. I’m glad you tried to help the little thing, it may have been the only kindness it knew.
    I can sympathize with your writing woes. It seems the best scenes and ideas come to me when I’m no where near a computer or pen, and by the time I sit down to write the scene is gone.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. How terribly sad. But he didn’t die alone, out in the cold. You did a good deed, Andrew.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Baydreamer says:

    Thanks for sharing all these wonderful thoughts, but I felt bad for the cat. Any case of an animal suffering is purely heart-wrenching…it was nice of you to take it to the shelter though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was clear after watching the poor thing try to drink that it needed a vet. If it was to survive it needed IV fluids. Our local shelter has a vet clinic on call for cases like this. It was just the right thing to do.


  7. Mukhamani says:

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Contrasts indeed. This was a beautifully written post, Andrew. I’m teary thinking of the poor cat – I’m glad you were there to ease its suffering. Peace be with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Debra says:

    Sometimes there are so many experience going on all at once that you can’t come in for a landing. You just have to absorb it all and somewhat meditate on it, and I think that’s what you’ve been doing. The Doerr book is sitting in my bedside “pile” and I haven’t yet opened it. You’ve inspired me to get to it! And your experience with the poor little kitty is heart breaking. I, like you and most of us, I think, can barely stand the idea of an animal suffering from neglect. As much as you can’t necessarily prevent a lamentable outcome, you gave the little creature some tenderness. What a touching story…and I can see why it has been difficult to concentrate. Peace and blessings, Andrew.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You need to read Doerr – wonderful writing. The cat did upset and otherwise nice afternoon and it’s the kind of thing that creeps back into your mind.


  10. There’s so much here to take in. Books, movies, wood working, authoring, rescuing… While I admire all of your gifts and talents Andrew, your compassion is what shines the brightest.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. There is a lot in this post, Andrew. The pieces of life that end up in our writing, movies that are satisfying if predictable, but the little cat. I hope he survives… Any updates?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. dorannrule says:

    Your words are so powerful they make me cry….especially the last part and your heroic efforts to bring comfort to a failing life.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Robin Dalton says:

    This is such a stunning post. Beautiful prose. I have that book on my “to be read soon” list. It’s good to know you were moved by it.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. jennypellett says:

    I agree about that book. Magical.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Ray V. says:

    That was a St Francis moment. . . Caring for a sick cat, even if caring meant ending it’s suffering. You gave it some love.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.