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.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Beautiful Illusion

"We travel initially to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. . . We travel, in essence, to become young fools again -- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more." -- Pico Iyer

In Bolivia, at 12,000 feet elevation, near the crest of the Andes, there's a magical salt flat called the Salar de Uyuni.  In the winter, with an infrequent desert rain, a mirrored surface is created all the way to the horizon -- rendering a miraculous doubling of the sky.  So at night, we feel as if we're standing at the center of the universe somehow, with all the stars of the galaxy revolving around us -- like diamonds unstrung.

It reminds me of meeting someone who mirrors our own identity.  Their constitution reveals itself, like a magic trick, to reflect our own qualities back to us -- our kindness, our openness, our creativity, our internal fire.  Only perhaps the most astute among us can see what lies beyond the reflection -- the more complex, almost liquid identity that has given shape to the beautiful illusion.

I enjoy perceiving both -- the David-Copperfield magic -- and the mind that has created it.  Being a fiction writer, I'm fascinated by every detail -- by the mirror and by what lies beyond it -- by the art and by the artist.  It's my talent to notice every nuance, no matter how slight.  And so I see everything within those I meet, on the surface and at depth, simultaneously.  I don't do it voluntarily, this x-ray of the psyche.  It just happens -- like seeing beyond the normal spectrum of light.  Whether my abilities are a talent or a curse, I don't know -- but I'm often accused of knowing too much about the secret universes within the minds of others.

In creating my fictional world, I, too, arrange its universe with infinite care -- placing each star in its firmament as if I were arranging the first and last constellation that would ever matter again.  I'm telling a story with an intent to unveil a truth we've always known -- about identity, about transformation, about the connections between people that are unexplained and mysterious and necessary.  Without them, life would become dull and diminished.  The sky would only be half-full.  And who would choose a life lessened by this kind of want?  Everyone hopes to be truly understood, to be wholly loved, don't they?  Even those who consider themselves enigmatic and unfathomable.

"We travel to find ourselves" . . . Yes.  And finding ourselves, we must return home once more.  My books are scattered about me -- my Tolstoy and my two bright apples and a single silver pen.  In three days' time, I'll gather it all in my backpack and wend my way home as well.


12 comments:

  1. I have heard about the Salar de Uyuni. I would love to see it in person. The winter is the best season?

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    1. Yes, the winter is the time to catch this phenomenon -- when the rains are a bit more frequent.

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  2. I'm imagining what it would be like to see a meteor shower at this location, with the meteors streaking above and below simultaneously.

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  3. It makes perfect sense to me that you can see past the facade people present to you because you're an author. It's an unusual ability though.

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    1. Perhaps so. It's not something I consciously do. I just tend to care about people a great deal -- so I try to be attentive to every detail they communicate.

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  4. What does it mean to you to "find yourself" while traveling?

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    1. To encounter images, narratives, vistas, and people that strike the internal chord as well as the external one -- encounters that are utterly new but somehow recognizable as well.

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  5. Have you met someone who mirrors your identity in the way you describe?

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    1. I have. It's an entrancing experience, actually.

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  6. How do you prefer to connect with the deep thoughts of others? Their "secret universes" as you term them?

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    1. I love to talk with people -- When I do, I find that I naturally "fall into" their world. I hear what they're saying, but I also perceive their "secret universe," quite involuntarily. People seem to sense this somehow, because they often tell me their private hopes, their secret griefs -- the things they don't confide in others. I feel abundant love and compassion for the people I meet -- Maybe this is the reason why? It's a mystery.

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