April 1, 2014

My Pen as Lens on the World

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I am going through old and treasured books in my home when I come across one called “Idea Catcher” that I’d purchased in Carmel, Calif. in 1997. It’s actually a journal and at the top of each page is a writing prompt – a simple quote or a suggested exercise meant to spur the imagination.

Pure joy for this writer, who was on an unplanned solo trip because a friend’s father had taken ill and she had to visit him in South Carolina instead being a part of this West Coast spring getaway. My pen wound up being a familiar and provocative companion.

As I flip through the journal now and read some of the entries I’d filled in, memories come rushing back — of encounters I had, sights that took my breath away and loves I had left behind. But also, some pure creative writing that I’d allowed myself to indulge in while sitting in the loveliest of places – cafes, beaches, stops along 17-Mile Drive. For example, one page asks the writer to “Turn into your favorite car. Are you a Jaguar? A Jeep? What does it feel like?” Here’s some of what I wrote:

Hootie and the Blowfish are blaring out of the best speakers money can buy. “I only want to be with you …” I am cruising and they are providing the perfect backdrop. Just call me sleek, baby. A red ’Vette just zoomed by me. It can’t compete. Not even in the same league as me. I’m white, my top is down. Are there bumps or grooves on this road? You couldn’t tell by me. Damn, I’m smooth. That’s what the guy in the showroom used to always say when he was trying to find me a suitable home. “Ma’am, you’re not going to find anything as silky smooth as this Mercedes Benz.” Or, “You want smooth, sir? Not just class, but smooth. I can make you a happy man.”

So now, here I am merrily jamming on Route 101 South from San Jose. Through green hills and garlic fields. I left the airport an hour ago and I’m almost where I want to be – Carmel. It’s my first time there and I can’t wait to see the place where Clint Eastwood parks his wheels. Wow. I’m on Route 156 West now heading toward 1. The blue-green, Caribbean-like Pacific has just emerged to my right. This is the kind of drive I was made for. The waves are foaming up on the sand. There are dunes everywhere. Worries? Ha! Cares? Gone. What else matters? I’m rolling through majesty created by nature, loving it, absorbing it. It is, truly, all there is.

This is my form of picturesque postcard. What most people get from photos, I get from reading what I experienced in a moment or an afternoon. Somewhere. Anywhere. A sporting event. An art gallery. An outdoor lunch spot with fresh iced tea. A drive, even a fantasy one from a car’s point of view.

Chronicling. Always chronicling. It’s who I am.

I live riveted to writing, my lens on the world.

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