Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

Gary: 2002

I wrote the following in two separate mini writing sessions in the summer of 2002. I thought I’d post it here and maybe inspire myself to dig a little deeper into Gary’s story. What do you think?

The tree was a huge, clawing thing. Its inky, leafless branches snaked out Medusa-like from a trunk more than twenty feet across. After Gary got over its sheer size, it was obvious that that was not all that made the tree unique. The surface was a shiny black, or was it silver? As he moved around it seemed to change with the light. It reminded him of hematite. Gary wondered if maybe it was formed of stone. It surely wasn’t alive, was it?

“What the…?”

He approached it from the road side, since coming at it from the opposite side would involve climbing a good hundred feet or so of sheer rocky cliff. The cobbled road led right up to the base of the tree and stopped there, wrapping slightly around tits base at the edges, the stones buckled where it met the tree, as if it had sprung up just moments before in the center of the path. Of course, the road ending at the bottom of a steep drop would seem almost as strange he supposed.

There was writing on the trunk. Or no, it was gone again. A trick of the light? The surface was extremely reflective. In fact Gary could see a dark image of himself as he moved around it. Carefully he reached out a hand to touch what he supposed should be the tree’s bark, expecting the shiny darkness to feel cold to the touch, but it was not. He jerked back as he felt the almost pulsing warmth beneath his fingers.

Eyes wide he reached out again and this time, as his fingers trailed across the smoothness, golden writing appeared under his touch, only to fade as his fingers moved on. At least he assumed it was writing, although he’d never seen anything like it before.

He rested his palm flat against the tree and the golden words flowed outwards from his hand. This time they did not disappear, but wrapped themselves around the tree and up into the branches until the tree shimmered with them. Gary, staring up into the tree, forgot about his hand against it and let it drop to his side. As soon as he did, the writing completely vanished, leaving Gary blinking up into the black branches.

Gary looked from his hand to the tree and back again several times before his brain began to process what had just happened… what he’d just discovered. Once his synapses started sparking, it was all he could do to just stand there and stare as the entire plan began to click into place in his mind. It was all making sense. He could hardly believe that this.. thing.. was what he had been searching for the entire time, and to stumble across it like this, well it was beyond believing.

Once his mind slowed to a reasonable pace and Gary could focus, he again lifted a palm and placed it flat against the side of the tree. Again he watched in awe as the golden symbols spread from his fingertips to cover the warm, dark surface. They wrapped around the trunk and snaked up into the branches until even the tiniest twig of a limb was shimmering gold and black. Then, all at once, it seemed as though the end of each and every branch burst into its own small flame. It looked to Gary as if, having nowhere else to go, the writing simply exploded from the ends of each branch, creating fiery leaves that flickered silver-gold.

This time when he lifted his palm from the side of the glowing tree, the words did not fade, but continued to writhe serpent-like across the inky surface. The tree had virtually transformed in minutes from a dead looking thing into something that literally sparked with life from every branch. Still amazed and staring up into the flickering “leaves”, Gary didn’t hear the man approaching until he spoke from directly behind him.


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pencils and moleskinesWhen I was in school, eons and ages ago, it was nearly impossible to find real wooden pencils. That makes no sense, I know. Apparently pencils that melt rather than burn was a stupid fad of the 80s, and damnit I wanted wood. Maybe it was my internal architect screaming to break free, maybe it was stubbornness, but nothing but a Dixon Ticonderoga would suffice.

Why am I writing about pencils? Well, I went pencil shopping this weekend, and darned if every pencil I found wasn’t real wood! As a matter of fact I didn’t see a single “plastic” pencil in the lot. I thought it would be as simple as it used to be to grab the only box of wood pencils on the shelf and be on my merry way, but nope. I had my work cut out for me in selecting just the right pencil, and I took my sweet time.

Why did I need a pencil? If I tell you I recently purchased and read Nick Cernis’ ebook, Todoodlist , most of you will probably begin to understand where my head is. Before that I was drawn in by his blog article Moleskine Notebooks: The Ultimate Guide (and how to rank your addiction), and I can only hope “How to Deal with Your Moleskine Addiction” is soon to follow, because I’m in danger of hand cramps as it is.

While I’ve been noticably absent from the blog world, I have been writing, and enjoying it! Never fear, I believe this trend of absenteeism will soon pass, because I’m building up ideas and thoughts on things to write here. I’ve been jotting down things that I think of that normally I would forget within minutes. So now when I sit down to write a post, I should have plenty of fodder.

So, what have y’all been up to?

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All Things to All People

Work is either fun or drudgery. It depends on your attitude. I like fun.
-Colleen C. Barrett

I work from home in an office environment where the phone rings constantly, and where Al Gore would surely pitch a fit at the small forest under which my desk is buried. My days consist of repetitive tasks and many unhappy people, so some days it’s tempting to let the negativity and monotony drag me down. Today was one of those days.

Around noon I found myself staring out the window directly behind my monitor and ignoring the ringing phone. I could feel the tug as a gloomy melancholy tried to snake around me and pull me down into some dark place and have its way with me. I was tired, and it was enticing to just give in. It was at that moment my little dog waddled into my line of sight and plopped her little butt in a patch of sunshine on the sidewalk.  She closed her eyes and raised her head towards the light, soaking it in as if fueled by the stuff… and I couldn’t help but smile.

My Gilly, short for Ghirardelli, is almost six years old, and her favorite things in the world are sunshine, me and food (in that order). If she can have one of those things at any one time, life is fantastic! Given two or (God help us) all three at once, she’s nearly apoplectic. I envied her so much at that moment, so happy with just a few rays of sunshine on her face, but then I thought, “Why shouldn’t she be happy with just that? Isn’t sunshine the whole reason you moved south in the first place?” And in fact it was.

Growing up in the frozen tundra that is northern Michigan, my fondest dream was to move south. It didn’t matter where, as long as it never snowed, and the sun shone all year long. (At 8 years old this seemed like such a fantasy, but then I realized there are places where this actually happens!)  So why shouldn’t a bit of sun on my face make me just as happy as it was making Gilly right that minute? So I left the phone in the house and took my tea with me out to the back yard for a good fifteen minutes. I called Gilly over, and we lay swinging quietly together in the hammock, eyes closed, soaking in the sun and sounds around us. It was the best fifteen minutes of the past two weeks, and I plan to revisit it again tomorrow, because I can.

I hope each of you can take time out today to go sit outside, away from the computers and phones, TVs and radios, and listen for awhile to the world. It’s an amazing place.

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Since September 2007 I have been keeping tabs on one Mr. Randy Pausch who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer the year before.  On September 18, 2007 he gave a “Last Lecture” at Carnegie Mellon University, where he had been a professor of Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, and Design since 1988.

If you’ve not seen this 76 minute video, I recommend it. It’s inspiring, sad, funny and uplifting all at once. I can’t say how many times I’ve watched it, but it never fails to remind me, not only how precious life is, but how there are so many different ways to handle your troubles. I want to handle mine like Randy Pausch is handling his. I can try, but quite honestly, I can only aspire to be the kind of person that he is. Still I watch, I listen and I try.

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