Wednesday, March 31, 2010

excerpt from letter about answers

*** (Excerpt of a friend’s letter and part of my response)***

“…As for me-things are ok. I need something new. Suspect if I let my thoughts go loose something may occur to me. Do you ever find, after a period of concentrated thinking, that if you consciously let your brain free itself of tension, that answers will come to you?...”

….Thanks for your kind words about the poem, dear Carole. I am pleased with how it came out. It is always heartening to be made aware that this particular “muscle” has retained its flexibility – still works, as it were. I am always on the lookout for a good poem and to be able to still access my place amid that magic garden is inspiring. The knowledge that I even want to is almost enough – almost…

….I’m not even kidding when I tell you that on consecutive days this week I received correspondence from two disparate sources that each has discovered poetry/writing of mine that they (and I) were unaware of. One, a friend here in Van has material that can’t be more than 3 – 4 years old (photos too, she indicates) and the other and old war buddy living in Calgary that puts its vintage at a time pre-dating our days together at Lake Louise (early 90’s) . The Fates…or something equally cool is trying to tell me something. For this reason (and as of this writing) I have resurrected what was once-termed: The Larry Project. That is, a collection of poems and images of my choosing for publication. A friend had offered to help put this collection together some years ago but for one reason or another we both let other things take priority. But I am now very warm to the idea of having a set of poetry formally bound and accompanied by images that will compliment the words and hopefully not distract too frequently. I have many talented friends who have agreed to have their work included in the book and I pray to follow through. The publishing friend I mention lives here, is Persian by descent though born and raised in London and has previously had a hand in publishing medical texts and a single novel but his outfit wishes to expand the scope of that what they publish. Mine would be the first collection of poetry, though I can’t escape my secret wish to incorporate my own publishing concern and begin something that may continue with other projects. In this I am confessing to my deep-rooted need for control over all my (and perhaps others, lol) written material – “Champsteen Publishing” At any rate, some years ago we did a couple things together and we affectionately kept referring to a book of my poetry as the Larry Project, ever pronounced with an exaggerated English accent on my part…

…Though I feel desperate at this point to complete several different projects, I have come to embrace this overwhelming desire to do so. I need to externalize my wishes, goals, desires (the appropriate ones). How else can they begin to be realized?

This brings me to your intriguing dilemma, vague as it is.

It is inspiring because as I mentioned the desire must be there. That you “need” something is crucial because how many of the dim and mundane of us ever acknowledge the wish for more. More, or perhaps a wider view of the expanse, an alternative route through the inner wilderness or an as yet unknown glimpse of the self? As you’ve briefly described it, I don’t sense you’re seeking a strictly material experience or process to take place, though I would not minimize the value in such. But that you contemplate movement of the mind is exciting…very exciting. Where do the Himalayas exist for us first, if not in our minds (thank the tragically hip for that reference). The well. The source. The soul. The deep, dark, wonder of the imagination. The potential for actualization is ever present. It is so intoxicating for me to…imagine…to simply imagine. It becomes very powerful, then, to act, free of concern for consequence. Now I am speaking in a creative and metaphorical sense but very run-of-the-mill stuff such as: writing a poem, a song, a paragraph, a letter. Now obviously I have an aptitude for this stuff and thank god for this and not some deep longing to be an automobile mender or to practice proctology, I would be hard-pressed to build up (or even fake) enthusiasm for these pursuits, noble as they may be. The point being that I have an awareness of what my particular skill set (talent) consists of and though I may present fanciful or un-real ideas or themes, the practice of putting those ideas down is not only reasonable, it many instances, it’s easy. Put a pen to paper. It’s done. Obviously on another level I want to do infinitely more. But I have identified a process through which I can have transcendental experience (with clothes on, yet). I can do my thing privately and if I deem it useful or at the very least, interesting, I can show you.

I love the notion that human beings are material and metaphor at once. Sit there and pray that you are a mountain, a cloud, a superhero or a leaf on a tree or that which you seek. Summon all the cosmic and metaphysical resources at your disposal BUT DO NOT ACT. Just sit or lie in your comfort zone of choice…and think. Do this until something changes. As you martyr yourself to evolution (ie, sit around thinking about it) you surely will get hungry, hallucinate, starve, die, decompose become mineral, elemental and thereby become the very material, the very constituents that make the mountains, the clouds, the leaves and at least some of the superheroes (actually, you already are that stuff as you read this but without the active component to your quest will you be any closer to that which you sought?) Will you have become better, different or in the least will anything have really changed?

….My buddy Bruce placed an ominous line in his song Devils and Dust, about someone forced to make a decision in an untenable situation and they must decide right now

“…I got my finger on the trigger…tonight faith just ain’t enough…”

the context here (a soldier with a gun in his hand) is provided during what is likely a split-second, while we here in the “real world” can afford to take our time…or can we? I agree with this sentiment in the song. Faith is not enough. One needs to be active in some fashion for any type of resolution or change in their personal drama such as it is.

In your case Carole, you are infinitely closer to a completely personal and transformational experience than those who simply are not looking…for anything. This is undoubtedly, is what they will find.

**(presently, Carole, I’m listening to uncle bob’s Modern Times, and in his song Beyond The Horizon, he sings the following)**

“…Beyond the horizon
I’m touched with desire
What don’t I do?
Through flame and through fire
I’ll build my world around you…”

Your suggestion of process may or may not be the tonic you seek but surely worth the effort. I couldn’t comment in any way useful to you because I do a whole whack of stuff for “answers.” Though as I get older and more mellow I feel less concerned with answers and seem to embrace transient joys more frequently but it must be known they appear far more frequently than they ever did (and I haven’t had a drink or drug in almost 3 years). In my favorite play to read, Equus, by Peter Schaffer it is written: worship all you can see…and more will appear. For me, there is something of gratitude in it or a particular frame of mind which makes a type of sense I find useful.

As for concentrated thinking, it appears this is how I get “answers” to what it is I want to say (write). My answers are found in simply trying to locate a phrase. With you, in this letter and others between us, we’ve developed something of a short hand that I appreciate though others may not, but mainly I want to be clear and concise and obviously I’m still trying to make a certain impression. Our conversations were never remotely this formal but we’ve taken it to the next level haven’t we, dear? But in poetry for instance, I identify the subject as specifically as i can and I spend the rest of the time, as I mentioned, trying to locate phrases. I brainstorm on the page. Its been commented on the length of my work (size matters?) but those who think my poems long should see how much is written before I hone it down to what results (between you and me I don’t think these people have read much poetry, to be honest). I very much employ narrative. I’m not one of these “list” makers - oops, I mean, poets. But I will mention that during construction of a poem that is working for me I am unaware of most things conscious. I get in the zone. It’s beautiful. I go in and after a certain amount of time I come up for air and something has arrived, been delivered (insert metaphor here). But while in the thick of things I am somewhere else…

…I fully encourage freeing your mind of tension, however, and have no doubt that it will result in something useful. But how crucial and glorious the will to seek. The knowledge that we are at once in command of the greatest mover of mountains and men…our imagination and our desire.

© 2010 Champsteen Publishing

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