Imagination doesn't just mean making things up. It means thinking things through, solving [problems] or hoping to do so, and being just distant enough to be able to laugh at things that are normally painful. [Some people] would call this escapism, but they would be be entirely wrong. I would call fantasy the most serious, and the most useful branch of writing there is.
--Diana Wynne Jones

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Candles and flowers

Saturday I got nothing done, thinking and reading and watching things unfold. I woke up to "Did you hear about Paris?" And then, like most of the rest of the world, did almost nothing but hear about it all day long.

I went for a walk this morning to quiet all the chatter still in my head. Social media, augh. It won't let
me stop thinking about Paris and Lebanon and Syria and bombs and horror and how quickly fear turns into the same kind of hate that caused the horror in the first place.

If that makes sense.

Sometimes it doesn't make sense to me, either.

But I don't think love and fear happen together.

And some of the chatter helps. A huge conversation with the whole world on what to do when people suffer. It's amazing we can do this.

My favorite story today was the little 3 year old French boy and his father being interviewed by a reporter, and the boy thinking they might have to move to a new house because of the mean men with guns who might shoot everybody. You've probably all seen it. No, his papa said, they won't shoot us. See all the flowers people are putting all around? That's to fight the guns. The candles, too, Papa? Those are to remember the people. So, the candles and flowers will protect us? the boy said again. Yes, his papa said.

I loved the smile on that little boy's face. Ok, yeah, I sort of cried. He wasn't the only one who felt better. It reminded me of the story of Ferdinand the bull, and how flowers saved him from violence, too.

Yesterday I needed to get far away. Practiced the piano for a long time. Tried to work on my latest novel, made some progress, too distracted to concentrate very well. All those chattering voices. Urgh. I need my brain back.

I didn't realize how crazy I was feeling until I walked out this morning and watched the light hit the white mountains, the sun burst out over the peaks like quiet glory.

My phone not quite capturing the moment

I found tiny icicles dripping off firs, smelled sunflowers and sage crushed and bent under yesterday's snow, heard the chickadees and finches going at it, and witnessed all the dead and dying leftovers from summer buried under a perfect layer of whitest snow, like forgiveness. An old metaphor, but that's how it felt.

Not sure the icicles are visible.

The craziness finally faded in all that beauty, and I thought, yeah, flowers are a pretty good weapon against guns and les m├ęchants, those mean guys. The three-year-old was right about the candles: remembering people we love--sadness without anger--that's protection, too. Maybe beauty and remembering are the only good weapons when there are people in the world who don't care if children die.

And a father teaching his son about love--that's about as beautiful as anything.  Love is what flowers and candles both meant anyway, right?

Thanks, Papa.

But sometimes, all those voices out there talking to each other through wires and screens, well, it's a little much, especially when the conversation turns nasty. Some of us are introverts. You know? So tomorrow I'm putting away all my screens except my novel-writing one and going for a nice long run in the snow. I'll light a candle to remember Paris, and Beirut, and especially the Syrian refugees, and then I'll let the birds and mountains help me find my brain again.

Time to let the real voices fade so there's room for imaginary ones in there.

Salut, tout le monde!

Narnia lamppost. Sort of. Not really. Still nice. 

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