My Third Novel's Conclusion, My Heartbreak

My heart begins to break when I think about completing this particular book -- because this narrative has sustained me like no other story I've known. It's both more personal and more universal than my other works. But beyond memory and archetype, it's a cri-de-coeur about needing to become the person one is destined to be. And in the writing, I have met my own life's work, my own fated journey -- having the sense all the while that the pages are suffused with a resonance, an energy, an electrified field that defies explanation. Writers hope and pray to be overtaken by a work in this way -- to be conscripted into passionate service of a profound story. To experience it even once in a lifetime seems a great privilege. I still have perhaps six months before this novel is complete, and this constitutes my reprieve. Because I'm not ready for the beauty to end.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Thoroughbreds

I rode thoroughbreds throughout my childhood.  Each one represented an impossible love affair of the sweetest apples offered in an open palm -- sun-drenched, bareback afternoons of free grazing in overgrown meadows -- intricate braiding of wild manes, both mine and theirs -- and mesmeric, cantering turns around the show ring.

My friends as I acknowledged that we were "horse crazy," passionately in love with the power of the bond with the animal, obsessed by the obsession of riding, unable to carry on with the normal ebb and flow of life without the presence of one's beloved equine partner.

I've commenced riding again recently, and I'm intrigued to discover that all the former passions come flooding back.  To ride well is to merge with the horse in some metaphysical way -- to harness their power as one's own and to re-emerge into the world as a more potent self, unconstrained by convention or expectation.  One's spirit unveils itself -- electrified, fast, fearless.

The thoroughbreds I have loved have taught me further lessons as well -- how to heighten my senses to life, so that I feel every shiver in the grass, every dimple in the wind -- how to connect to someone so closely that the sound of their voice and the grounding of their touch become as necessary and encompassing as the air -- how to open myself to gestures of kindness and guidance, mastery and flow -- because the dance of horse and rider is always choreographed magically for two.  The thoroughbred turns toward deep connection like a necessity of the soul.

But thoroughbreds have also taught me that miraculous ability to bolt suddenly, if not met by a person who is genuine and substantive and respectful.  I instinctively flee from fakery and pretense, and always from cruelty.  It's not really a choice so much as a physical mandate, a compulsion to stand with those who are protective and sustaining and true.

Thoroughbreds represent a mysterious alchemy of power and instinct, senses and spirit, grace and emotion -- and those who ride them can't help but reveal the same mysteries within themselves.  And the electric force that flows through animal and rider alike?  It's the force of life itself -- charged and overflowing, transformative and indomitable.  It's both a dream and the dream's awakening to reclaim this force as my own.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Music 7

I'm still listening to my February 12 playlist, because, well, some of those songs have no expiration date -- Fix You, Magic, Fire and Rain, Strange and Beautiful, Never Knock.  Still, I've made a few additions to my travel tracks -- so I thought I'd share them with you.  I hope to return home in a week or so, though I'll try to post before then.  In the meantime, enjoy!

Where's My Love -- Alternate Version -- by SYML

Numb -- by Carlos Vara

Never Tear Us Apart -- by Bishop Briggs

The Scientist -- by Coldplay

Dare You to Move -- Alternative Version -- by Switchfoot, The Beautiful Letdown

Supercut -- El-P Remix -- by Lorde

Make It To Me -- by Sam Smith

Retro pick:  Yesterday -- Remastered -- by The Beatles

Friday, March 9, 2018

A Boy and His Swan

This interview, between Lane and her novelist friend Nathan, was conducted on Wednesday, March 7th, and subsequently transcribed.

Nathan:  In your novel, you're writing about an unusual young woman who has led a very protected, cloistered life due to her father.

Lane:  Yes, she's very pure -- but her spirit is utterly untamed -- both of which I identify with.

Nathan:  Can you tell us something about the swan in the narrative?

Lane:  Well, without giving too much away -- imagine a boy who sees a beautiful swan out on the lake -- He can't get her beauty out of his mind -- He wants to possess that beauty as his own, so he goes out with a net to capture her.  But the swan is much more powerful than he realizes.  She can't be captured in any conventional way, actually.  She can't be owned or controlled.  The boy comes away from the encounter having been injured -- but the swan is undiminished.  In order to be healed, he has to seek out the swan again -- with a little more fortitude this time.

Nathan:  Are there any literary examples of this type of idealized conquest?

Lane:  Samuel Richardson's Clarissa comes to mind.  In the novel, Robert Lovelace abhors the notion of love in the abstract, but he becomes overwhelmed, despite himself, by Clarissa Harlowe, who is a paragon of beauty and virtue.    His callous character aside, he can't forget his encounter with Clarissa.  Her goodness and ideal femininity become the sole focus of his desire.

Nathan:  So what are we to make of our encounters with the beautiful and the virtuous?

Lane:  They're infrequent -- and transformative.  It's a wonderful and terrible event to meet someone who is a rare spirit.

Nathan:  How do you mean?

Lane:  Someone who has no falsehood in them -- someone who can't be provoked to hatred -- someone who has the power of love and creation running through their veins.  We can't forget it.

Nathan:  Has it ever happened to you?

Lane:  Oh, yes.  I know several extraordinary people who manifest these qualities.  I work very hard to keep them in my life.

Nathan:  And what about those whose characters more closely resemble the boy's or Robert Lovelace's?

Lane:  I can think of two people who fit this description in my life -- and they're both very important to me.  I love them for themselves.  I understand what's behind their public personae.  In truth, I find them extraordinary in their own ways, despite their proclivity for conquest.

Nathan:  Why?

Lane:  I'll simply say that, from a narrative perspective, the swan longs for the boy as much as the boy longs for the swan.  The swan feels sorrow when the boy is injured.  She feels a bond with him, despite his intention.  She never wishes to hurt him.  She wants him to understand her, not to try to capture her.  She will only give her companionship to someone who comprehends her worth.

Nathan:  So, when the boy first sets out, he doesn't have the knowledge that certain beings cannot be caged, really.

Lane:  No, he doesn't.

Nathan:  And if he attempts it?

Lane:  If he is approaching a creature of power and insight with the intent to cage her, his initial quest will fail.

Nathan:  And yet the boy and the swan are drawn together, aren't they?

Lane:  They're a matched pair, in a way.  They inhabit the same fairy tale.  They're set apart from the rest of the world due to their shared enchantment with one another -- their shared knowledge of one another's true identities.  Fearless hearts seek out fearless hearts -- and that's as it should be.

Nathan:  Does life require copious amounts of courage, then?

Lane:  Life is an adventure.  If you're not being brave, you're sleepwalking.  I want to make this journey while fully awake.

Nathan:  You are, Lane.  You're one of the most vibrant people I've ever met.

Lane:  Ok, now you've silenced me.

Nathan:  In that case, it would seem our interview is over, regrettably enough.


Nathan:  I'm looking forward to reading your book.

Lane:  Pressure.


Nathan:  No pressure intended!  But the chapter I saw was extraordinary, so you should be doing nothing else.  Good luck with the upcoming writing.

Lane:  Thank you so much.

Monday, March 5, 2018

The First Hero

"I am the master of my fate.  I am the captain of my soul." -- William Ernest Henley

Once, many years ago, my father wrote a love letter to my mother, even though he knew she was engaged to marry someone else.  In it, he said he knew they couldn't spend their lives together in the way he had hoped, but he wanted her to know he loved her anyway, unconditionally, irrevocably.  And if she ever needed his support, she could call on him -- at any time throughout her life -- just call on him and he would help her without question -- like a mysterious benefactor in a Charles Dickens novel -- like a mythical figure who appears in a Greek drama at the critical hour -- like a lover turning to his beloved.

Because my mother had a quality about her -- a passion for life, a purity of spirit, an ethereal beauty, a charisma -- that my father knew he would never again find in anyone else.  He might go on looking for my mother in other women, he admitted -- but he knew he would never again encounter her.  So, his life would be a pale imitation of what it would have been otherwise -- a shadow play of its potential -- a diligent exercise in going through the motions.

But fate, like all great narrative, is filled with reversals.  Love given freely is sometimes greatly rewarded.  I owe my life to the unexpectedly generous letter of a broken-hearted graduate student who was trying to figure out how to piece together his second-best destiny.  My parents were reunited a year after his letter was sent.

My father was an adventurer of the first order.  He rode camels past the pyramids in Egypt, he dove miles under the ocean in a one-man submersible; he spear-fished; he scuba dove; he raced sailboats; he rode horseback.  At 6'4", he swam the butterfly every day in the open ocean in a way that inspired open-hearted awe in those who saw it -- myself among them. He explored every continent and all seven seas by the time he was 40.  But he never showed more courage than he did in writing a simple letter, declaring an unconditional love for a woman beyond his reach -- a thousand miles and a permanent heartbreak away.

It's a remarkable risk to extend such a love.  And it's an astonishing grace to inspire it.  My parents did both, proving that sometimes the best love stories begin after their seeming end.

Thanks for being the first hero I ever met, Dad -- intrepid, brilliant, adventuresome, stoic, loyal, wise -- the strongest captain in any storm -- the first man to extend to me a love beyond all bounds.

*** Please note:  I am away on work-related adventures for the next several weeks, so please be patient when trying to reach me.  I will respond to emails, etc. as soon as I can during travel.  Thanks for your understanding, everyone.

Sunday, March 4, 2018


I'm away from home on work-related adventures!  Enjoy Oscar night, everyone!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Tall Guys

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.  You know that your name is safe in their mouth." -- Jess C. Scott

I have a cadre of talented men in my life -- CEOs, surgeons, professors, filmmakers, composers, novelists, students -- tall and handsome, always in spirit, often in form.  They are educated, kind, articulate, athletic, insightful, artistically gifted, intellectually brilliant, thoughtful fellows.

But I love best the small ways in which they show their character on a daily basis -- the way they share their breakthroughs with me, with childlike excitement, eyes shining; the way they ask what I'm currently reading, what I'm currently thinking -- with palpable interest; the way they tell me their secrets, their hopes, their fears -- because they know I'm eminently trustworthy and I'll always maintain their confidence; the way they refuse to lie, either to me or about me -- because the truth is what they choose; the way they're undaunted by setbacks, knowing there can be unexpected opportunities within them; the way they're unafraid to care about me -- to grab my hand, to lift me off the ground, to shout with delight when I've said the insightful words, whatever they may be; the way they're protective of me -- body, mind and spirit -- because they tell me I'm something rare.

In a time when much is being written about those who are cowardly and dishonest, I'd like to give recognition to the great men, the brave ones, the fellows of character and good faith, talent and strength -- the tall guys.  Thank you for sharing your lives with me, gentlemen.  My days are so enriched by knowing you.  Your kindness, your courage, your love, your confidence and your fortitude bring me joy -- hour by hour.  I'm proud to stand by your side through all the grand adventures of this life.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Prometheus Inside

"There are four questions of value in life, Don Octavio.  What is sacred?  Of what is the spirit made?  What is worth living for and what is worth dying for?  The answer to each is the same.  Only love." -- Lord Byron

I feel love for two people who don't want to love anyone -- who abhor the idea of "love" per se -- who much prefer to view life in transactional terms -- deals -- exchanges.  One of them is a relative -- and the other, a friend.  Given that love is present in my very breath, in each surge of the rivers and tributaries that map my veins, these relationships are mysterious to me -- and surprisingly powerful.  On some essential level, I possess something that these two men want and need from me -- and I feel this hunger from them almost like a magnetic pull.

I have glimpsed their suffering at times -- because I notice everything.  I know how empty their experience can be -- how detached and bored they can feel without being able to know true depth of emotion for other human beings.  It's like having their noses pressed up against the glass of life.  On the other side, they can see people experiencing love, fulfillment, gratitude, delight, pure joy.  It's quite painful to be separated from all that.  They're cut off from the kind of deep and rewarding connections to which I have unfettered access -- and this must feel prejudicial to them -- even wildly unfair.  I'm sensitive to their predicament -- and the ways in which they try to fill the internal void.  I see the terrible ennui that sometimes fills the space that love might occupy -- and the game-playing that helps them feel connected, albeit in a superficial way, to others.

The problem that occurs when we approach one another is that I can't be played or diminished in my relationships with them.  I merit something more interesting, more powerful -- a meeting of equals.  My insight is too developed -- my character is too valuable -- to become smaller on request.  Because love insists on authenticity.  It disdains deceit or retribution or trivial power gambits.  In the face of love, all detours become child's play.

In the most secret room of my soul, there's a bright fire burning -- incandescent, luminous. I don't know how it was kindled or who lit the flame -- but it can't be extinguished.  It emanates an ever-increasing amount of heat and light from one day to the next, and, despite my own desires, I'm incapable of doing anything to destroy that fire.  I'm forced to keep it burning because of my elemental connection to it.  The white light burns as the source of my spirit and it can't be diminished, by me or by anyone, really.  It renews itself from a limitless source.

If my sacrifice of myself would help these two men receive love in its entirety, I would give them everything -- even to the point of my own destruction.  That's how much I care about them.  But I know my demise wouldn't serve them.  They need to light their own fires within their own secret rooms -- to kindle their own source of love and character -- and I want more than anything else to support them.

What do I know of the feelings these men have for me?  They hate me and they love me, both -- even though they don't believe in love.  They feel I've withheld the one thing that would sustain them -- though the "one thing" is different for each of them.  I know I've deeply wounded them both by not giving them everything they've wanted from me.  By their own measure, they've lost the original game they hoped to win.  Will there be another?  We all know I have the potential to help them heal in some way.  I hope one day, in loving them generously, I will have the chance.

I long to let them know I understand everything -- the pain they have suffered, the things they've done to try to alleviate it, the shame that has followed in the wake of their choices, the blame they've cast outward, the rage over not feeling like "enough" -- and I love them anyway, in their entirety.  They are enough.  They are worthy.  They are beloved.

In the meantime, I uphold their well-being in my heart and mind.  I visit the room in which the incandescent fire is burning and I long to give them a part of it -- a white-hot torch they can carry forward -- with no cost, no strings, no deal required.  I feel such inexplicable connection to these two men -- I hope they can draw strength from that somehow -- I hope they can draw meaning -- sustenance -- even when we don't speak.  Life is short.  Deep connections are rare.  But I love these two people beyond the measurable.  And I won't desert them.  If they ever ask for my support, I'll be there to render it.  If they ever need to talk to me, I'll be there to listen.  Perhaps they'll read these words, so perhaps they'll know.