Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Man's Endless Search for Water Front Property

Sometimes reality is truly strange and coincidence is just too powerful.  This morning I was looking for a good blog topic and came across a short piece I started a couple years ago.  I wrote for about an hour and moved on through my day that included a visit to the shore and a walk on the slips in the boat harbor to make sure my boat was safe and sound.  This evening I sat down to cruise my email, Facebook, Twitter and all the other news sources of the day.  What do I find?  Today, March 22nd is World Water Day.  I was writing a tribute and didn’t know it.   As Rod Serling would say, “I give you a man, a man at a computer writing, writing as he does each day. Little does he know his about to enter. . . . The Twilight Zone.”  Here is what I wrote this morning, completely obvious to anything. 

            Sometimes when I look out over the lake I reflect on the idea that humans are land animals and don’t fair well in water for any extended amount of time. Oh, we have our long distance swimmers and a handful of deep sea divers, but by and large humans don’t dwell in water without technology to help them breath, float and stay warm.  How odd then that humans, so much more at home on dry land, are fascinated with water.  We vacation near and on it, pay exorbitant prices for lake front, beach front, river front, slough front property, just so we can sit and drink our coffee and cocktails looking out over the water that we paid to sit by.  The house just across the street may be just as nice as mine it, but it’s not on the lake so it’s not as valuable as mine, fact of life. So what’s the deal, why does staring at waves lapping on the beach drop our blood pressure? Why does a walk on a sandy shore at sunset turn a woman’s heart to jelly while the same walk down a dusty ranch road has her heading for the nearest bus stop?  Why do we paddle, row, motor, sail, and splash our way across anything made of water just to do it, no destination no goal in mind, just being there? 

We went to the beach today, where we walked along the sand and let our focal length stretch out across the bay to the mountains beyond.  We are at the vernal equinox, that day when the daylight and no light are evenly divided.  When the sun is out we can really notice the change here just north of 60 degrees latitude.    Coincidentally we received one of our most significant snowfalls of the year this first day of spring.   But here on the beach it’s hard to tell where we are in the seasons.  We are accustomed to snow on the mountains late into summer and the water doesn’t change that much in the winter. 
            We were on this same beach on Thanksgiving day and the photos could be interchanged.   The harlequin ducks are cruising the shoreline like lost mardi gras celebrants in their flashy feathers and animated postures.  The goldeneye ducks have abandoned the frozen inland lakes to winter at the shore.  Other than that the waves and beach see impervious to the time of year. Perhaps that is part of the attraction of water.  It is so fluid and seems always to be in motion and transition, but it is at the same time it so permanent and infinite, dependable. 
            It has been said that people are drawn to water as they are salt, sugar, and sex.  It is said that we have natural attractions to things that we need to live and a one human quality is that we take these needs to extremes, so that our attraction to water is no different than our attraction to pizza or a sex partner.   I have trouble buying that idea.  Yeah, we need to drink water but that’s not the same as immersing in water, boating on water, staring at water, and listening to water.

            The water connection must be one of the most powerful forces working on our psyche.  Our water affinity is more on a common with romantic love, so full of promise and mystery, an offer of hope and wellbeing.  The river flows to us and past us, coming from an undefined place and staying for a moment then is off to the future, to the sea that stretches out forever touching foreign lands and distant dates not yet on the calendar.   The lake, the pond, the puddle all draw our imaginations into their depths too dark to show what’s below but light enough to let us know something is there.   What child un-leased after a rain doesn’t rush to the nearest puddle, toys and trikes forsaken for a chance to stomp and splash or dig canals to link puddles and ditches with the tenacity of the beaver. 
            Some would call it genetic memory, our water attraction, a return to the sea where our primogenitors first came out from the salt water and breathed air.  Or is it that we are mostly water in make up, and in our first home, the womb, we were suspended in water.   Maybe we are born into the water cycle, and it here that we are strengthened, calmed, inspired, and uplifted by any time we can feel its motion, hear its roar, smell it’s salt, and let it wash around our feet. 
            We are in fact water mammals. Not because we live in the water, but because we long for it like a first love, the last dance, the warm hearth.   Mother Earth, Father Time, Lover Water. 
            And so I remain, sitting by my lake in the rain dreaming of rivers flowing to the sea where all answers are found if we listen and ask the right question.

Next time:  Water, is there such a thing as too much of a good thing? 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

I Can't Hear You When You're Yelling

When I step back from the blogs, news stories and Facebook rants about politics this year, I realize the challenge that Americans face.  We have to choose people to govern us and keep us together as a country, and in order to do that we have to identify our distinct values so that we can take a position, often diametrically opposed to that of other Americans.    In our quest to find some one to unite us we form partisan factions that stand in strident opposition.

What we all seem to forget, or fail to accept, is that we are not a like-minded people and will never be.  This land is too big, our experience too diverse, and our personal “religions” to different ever coalesce into one voice, one mind.  This means that Americans can let ourselves bicker and bash as we have for the last few months, or we can work to find places that we agree and try to solve problems in that context.

The other reality that we are ignoring right now is that we think differently because we are different and those differences in the way our minds work keep us from seeing the world the same way. For example, some people see wealth or resources as finite.  There is only a certain amount and if you have more that means I have less.  Others see it as unlimited, so that if you have more than me I can still go get more too.  You can’t easily change some ones mind on something like this, so don’t try.   That doesn’t mean we can’t share that world.  

Our challenge in listening to political advertisements, speeches and debates is to decide who is going to help us solve problems, provide for our needs, and help us live in peace and prosperity with our world neighbors.   The goal is to have OUR country not MY country.  Remember, if only your views are heard and only your wishes granted then another body of Americans is going to be left out and their needs not met.   The next time one of your neighbors speaks in support of a candidate, a principle or belief that you object to, close your mouth and listen.  Why is his/her thinking so different from yours?  Where is the common ground?   

Democracy is messy enough without all the yelling.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

How I Became a Writer

            When I was little, as far back as I can remember, I liked to make up stories.   That’s how I entertained myself on long car trips, or long afternoons hoeing potatoes, stacking firewood or lounging in a grassy nook on the homestead bermpile.  One of the best times for story making was time between going to bed and going to sleep. Warm and comfortable beneath a wool quilt I could create interesting characters, fit them out with gear and comrades, and then send them off.  I would disappear into the mountains with Sam the mountain man, or sail off with Andy in pursuit of pirates.  Sometimes my story would be so exciting that I looked forward to my time alone so I could reinter that life my character was leading like I was reading a good book.
            As I grew older and became more of an adult, I began to dream up stories of my actual life, projecting what might, could, or should be for the future Dan.  Sometimes these stories came true and many didn’t. Then I started writing them down. This is what developed into being the writer I am today.  In the process, I have discovered that a writer needs to learn about language, the writing process, and story structure.  Finally, I found that writers have to spend a lot time working at writing.
 Perseverance is critical.
            Just as I savored creating stories for myself, I now like writing stories and sharing them — some of them anyway.  I like constructing these characters out of the experiences in my life and examining how they respond and change.  I find it really exciting when these characters seem to take the initiative and go off on their own way and let me follow and record.  That is what writing is for me, to build stories that could or might be.  Yes, some stories have actually happened for they come from my life, but they are seen through my lens and remembered by my unique version of memory.  They are mine. 

            Of course, I hope that some one will publish my stories and I hope that people will buy my books an then some one will want to publish more of my books.  But in the end, it goes back to being that boy making up stories as a he lay awake at night waiting to go to sleep.