Friday, May 8, 2009

Live Long

We are all thinking about napping, even I, with my nose in a book of essays on The Lord of the Rings, can feel my eyelids slipping slower across my eyes. Each essay gives a different version of encountering Tolkien; i.e, being bought off by family, needing a place to escape family, etc. The essays remind me of the passages that I've forgotten and of reading in my bedroom as a child and what it was to have no space of my own but the book I'd fallen into.

Reading is the furnishing of the space of my own, the charting and plotting of my own imagination. Since not every book that I read will become something I remember or think of, I can't say that I'm charting the author's vision, exactly. More accurately, I've been given a map and have been left to find the seas and the islands on my own.

As I grow older, my mind is less flexible and I am spoiled by the physical realities of a home of my own. The space that I charted is less accessible, the ideals fainter and the edges of the old charts burned, torn, and ragged. I can hear my knees creak as I try to twist around the edge of the laundry totem tent (otherwise known as the drying rack)and keep an eye on the tussling puppy. It's too easy to sit in front of the tv and let it dream for me.

The essays don't let me off the hook for this. I'm reminded that Tolkien spent decades in creating and refining and writing, that if I'm willing to outsource my imagination now, I'm letting the degradation begin--of the language, the ideas, the morality, the will--that will cause my carefully charted self to become a landfill of flash and emotion and reflexive need for stuff. Of course, I still want books--but I need to remember that I want to create and chart a space that is consonant with what I judge to be good, not with the echoes of emptiness and formula.

And yet, good is often found in unexpected places. At the movies today, I found myself getting chills from the narration at the end of the latest Star Trek movie. Somehow, the calm intonation of Spock filling a theater upon which the stars and planets swerved brought me to tears--in this, too, I at one time believed, that through exploration we are saved and that logic and a strong team were the appogee of the adult world.

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