05 November 2013

Forest for the trees

If I were a character in a sci-fi story, then I'd like that story to be set in the universe of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, so I could be a Magrathean.

The Magratheans are a bunch of specialists who custom-build planets for ridiculously rich people in the world of H2G2. One of my favorite characters in the series is a Magrathean; his name is Slartibartfast, and he designs coastlines. He especially loves fjords.

In the last month or so since my last blog entry, all I've been able to think about whenever I try to write something is forests. In particular, I think of the forest of my interlude house and what it would feel like to sit on that boulder or outcrop at the end of the day and just look out at a sea of trees. Yosemite, Bialowieza, Jiuzhaigou, the Amazon. Old mountains. Birds circling the canopy. Bears, wolves, deer, big cats. Fish in the river, critters in the undergrowth. And still, still — a whole lot of quiet.

This morning, I imagined meeting some people I haven't seen in years and thought that maybe I would not be the person they remember. Nor would I be the person they thought I'd be by now. And in imagining how I'd answer if they asked me about it, I realized what I'd been trying to explain to myself in the past month or so of thinking about forests and listening to music that makes me wish for mountains of stone.

I feel empty in a way that makes me calm. I feel as though day-to-day life has drained me of everything good and bad. Now I am standing in front of my shell, and all of the things that were drained out are arranged neatly in rows around my shell's feet. I feel as though I am supposed to decide what I'm supposed to put back so that I can go back to being me, but maybe better.

But instead of doing that, I'm packing in dirt and hoping something entirely new takes root. I'm watching the trees grow taller, watching the river cut through the land, watching the land throw up some granite peaks, watching a few emergents poke up from the canopy, watching the sky, watching the woods, watching the quiet.

I spend so much of my time now taking things apart and putting them back together, demolishing and rebuilding other people's sentences. I don't want to have to do that with myself, with all the me arranged in neat little rows. When it's time for myself, whether for my own writing or just for being myself, I just want it to somehow magically grow out of me on its own, for the story to come from the understory and not from the same puzzle pieces I've been assembling and reassembling for years.

The simple fact that this blog entry did not go the way I thought it would makes me glad.

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