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The Imagined

- O my characters,
my imagined, here are some fancies of crumbs
from under love's table.
- from "The Unswept," Sharon Olds, 2002

A writer's life is an intriguing and frustrating mix of the seas of imagination and drudgery. Of loosely formed characters invited to a feast in which the writer slaves all day to put food on the table. I dwell lately on the future of art and creation... In a world that has no time for stationary or telephone calls, a world of instant messaging and lightning fast downloads, where does the artist dwell?

Yesterday, my daughter, a prospective medical student deep in her science studies, pulled out her drawing pad and charcoals. An hour or two later she sent me a note (yes, a text, plus image) of the drawing she had made. What she wanted to tell me, what was evident in abundance in her large smile and the stains of charcoal across her fingers and shirt, was that for long moments of timeless time she'd floated in the vas of creativity. Found her joy. Lost in the making of something of raw elements and imagination, forgetful of all but the endeavor of her hands and inner mind to make what she imagined, she surfaced with not just a drawing, but the pure relaxation of a mind at play. We step out of the stresses and the gates of the ordinary world when we create. The mind finds renewal in creation, delight in imagination. A synthesis of hand and eye and brain brings our parts together to sing a kind of song of living. We feel what it is in the body to dance hand in hand with the mind. Mindful, we step outside and then inside and back again, to a place in ourselves we instinctively recognize.

We need to allow ourselves to unspool from time to time, slave for our characters, wobble on the sweep of strong winds like dandelion seeds lifting from the stalk. Those "fancies of crumbs from under love's table," are these not bits of ourselves we leave to mark the path out of the ordinary into joy's private garden?
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