Why I like to write
I’ve always admired those authors who were able to capture my imagination quickly and whose writing styles pulled me in and kept me turning pages. When I was very young and beginning to read longer stories with more involved plotlines and interesting character development, I grew to prefer the faster pace and rapid arcs that these authors delivered. I was naturally drawn to science fiction aimed at young adults. It made me feel more mature to be able to read and understand these stories in spite of the fact that I was still pre-adolescent myself. My consumption of fiction was increased as a result of my asthmatic condition and the medications I was given to facilitate breathing. The medicinal choices at that time were limited compared to today and the most effective of them was essentially a modified version of speed. A powerful stimulant that increased heart rate and acted upon the central nervous system. A side effect of the medicine was insomnia and I remember spending many a sleepless night alone in a large comfortable chair reading everything available to a kid my age. When the sci-fi ran out I would turn to biographies of historical figures from my classes in school. As I got older my taste in reading material expanded into new areas, some of which concerned my mother when I would question her about an idea or concept with which I was unfamiliar. Sometimes, in science fiction, an author will take a concept about social structures, familial relationships or gender stereotypes and couch them in frameworks that would seem alien in order to present the appearance of strange and unfamiliar landscapes or creatures. When I asked my mother what the word “incest” meant she was understandably curious about where I had learned the term and in what context it was mentioned. The dictionary definition referred to “sexual relations between close family members related by blood. Not knowing what “sexual relations” were or even what “blood relations” meant I was confused about how these concepts fit into the story I was reading. Although I had a fairly good understanding of faster than light travel and extra-solar planetary systems, my knowledge of sex and the relative distances between siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles was sketchy at best. I learned rather quickly after that experience that, maybe, there were certain areas that it was best my mother didn’t know I was exploring. My voracious reading habits grew along with accumulated birthdays and because I had been reading so extensively my performance in school reflected this dividend.
In adolescence, I entered a period of philosophical inquiry and began to question everything I was being told about society, human behavior and the political systems of organization and control. Many of the things that I was being taught were delivered with little or no critical examinations of the whys or wherefores for the reasons the world operated the way it did. America was engaged in the violent and costly VietNam “police action”. My teachers’ unquestioning acceptance of the “domino theory” of communist expansion being the justification for America's presence in a tiny country on the other side of the globe, raised more questions in my mind than answers. After the events at Kent State college when four young people were gunned down by Ohio national guardsmen, it became blindingly obvious that there were aspects of the political system that didn’t conform to the narrative we were being fed.
Like a knit sweater that was slowly unraveling as one would, obsessively pull at a thread, my perspective on human beings, society, and that strange beast called politics was consistently being altered. My search for answers would turn into a lifelong examination of the stories we were being told and the countervailing evidence of my senses which caused a disconnect between the two realities. I’ve been living in those two very different worlds ever since.
My reading continued. In earnest now because I desperately wanted to make sense of the madness. The convoluted upside-down vision of a world that allowed for an economic caste separation of disparate levels of living, consumption, and privilege and the egalitarian promise of a democratic access to all of the planet's resources. I was spiraling down the rabbit hole of a reality that was increasingly at odds with what everyone else was telling me was real. Eventually, I found a passage written by John Dryden that described my plight more succinctly than I had ever been able to realize before. It went something like this.
“of these the false Paulo was first, a name to all succeeding ages cursed. For close designs and crooked counsels fit, sagacious, bold, and turbulent of wit. Restless, unfixed in principles and place. In power, unpleased, impatient of disgrace; a fiery soul, which working out its place, fretted the pygmy body to decay; and o’er informed the tenement of clay. A daring pilot in extremity, pleased with the danger when the waves went high, he sought the storms, but for a calm unfit, would steer too nigh the sands to boast his wit. Great wits are sure to madness near allied, and thin partitions do their bounds divide.”
I exchanged the name ser Dryden used for a variation of my own name. The passage resonating so deeply with my own sense and thoughts. Having lived these threescore years learning little that could successfully address my fears I’ve reached an accommodation with them and are now comfortable with the chaos realizing the necessity that any version of reality that incorporates the billions of individual consciousnesses on this planet and the infinite possible minds that probably inhabit the universe could not be otherwise comprehensible by one human mind. I hold out hope that perhaps my soul can do better.
This journey dragged me reluctantly to poetry and eventually realizing the nuanced truths that could be mined from those layered lines of emotion, metaphor and descriptive parables. My own attempts were poor reflections of the methods and structures used by truly great writers but I discovered that the process was more gratifying than the finished product ever would be. For me, at least, playing with words the way the artist uses and experiments with color, texture, and mood, revealed a circuit in my brain that when stimulated would illuminate thoughts that were poorly absorbed at first. What resulted from these exercises seemed to be a greater appreciation, if not understanding of the other perspectives people could experience. Philosophers claim that no two people looking at the color red were seeing the same thing and their various descriptions of color were evidence of the subjectivity of consciousness. This must be the case as it explains much about the spaces between people and the interconnectivity of the human heart.
Poetry in Ink
I feel I find, from time to time, the need to sit and think.
And having thought I think I ought to set it down in ink.
These thoughts of mine that I unwind do leave me on the brink.
While fears appear and make it clear that I must swim or sink.
When muses come they find me numb and hung up in the rafters.
I find it strange to pre-arrange those “happily ever afters”.
When life plays out and without a doubt, starts writing extra chapters,
it is then that you begin to understand the sin,
and what awaits you in the hereafter.
From your ever faithful friend and fellow Earthling, P.