Saturday, January 31, 2015

Slow to medium, slowed to medium: Pace for the long haul

"I write fantasy because it's there. I have no other excuse for sitting down for several hours a day indulging my imagination. Daydreaming. Thinking up imaginary people, impossible places. Imagination is the golden-eyed monster that never sleeps. It must be fed; it cannot be ignored. Making it tell the same tale over again makes it thin and whining; its scales begin to fall off; its fiery breath becomes a trickle of smoke. It is best fed by reality, an odd diet for something nonexistant; there are few details of daily life and its broad range of emotional context that can't transformed into food for the imagination...(read the entire quote the post "Dreaming Awake"on Terri Windling's blog Myth & Moor) - Patricia A. McKillip

An early winter snow turned to freeze in our Forest Lane World

This is a very different sort of winter. As if winter could be only one way. It makes me shiver to think I might put that thought out into the atmosphere where Lonomakua could rub it between his elemental palms and blow the mana'o the thought like so much fog into the world. Taking it from my tiny writer's hut and telling my secrets, I wonder what would become of such a piece of speculation.

THERE, in those three sentences is the start of what can happen when a writer, this one, takes a bit of information, in this case, famous fantasy writer Patricia A. McKillip's quotation and rub it against the sides of my imagination. Follow if you can ... This is a very different sort of winter. It is! In the real time of winters this one is my fifth in these woods. The Tall Trees around have grown even taller. Through the foggy moisture that is one of this winter's favorite dressing gowns the cedar blurs outside the Quonset. A breeze stirs and rakes the bamboo pole outside my rippling plastic window. The antennae making possible an ether-connection sways, but, the signal stays. Late January and some place nearby the temperature will reach 50 degrees. Near Spring? Not really, but the illusion could tempt the hearty ones into shorts and short-sleeves that only cover their biceps. Not me, oh no, I am layered with thermal top and two shirts, a hoodie and my worn but warm quilted coat. Snow and freeze came early this winter. Short but fierce for this environment. The fog has taken hold instead, Lonomakua the elemental God we name in my home islands is the Atmosphere in Winter. There or here, I recognize the game, the dance he plays with this Island Earth.
A twirling little girl climbed out my fingers to shake and shimmy while the snow and frost came

It makes me shake and shimmy to think about what might happen if I weave the reality of my experiences as a Hawaiian-Islands woman observing the interaction of Lono here, two thousand five hundred miles from the culture that has named him, with the fluidity of my imagination. That shiver is however, the first bite in the slow to medium process that I am coming to know more intimately as I live my art, live my kuleana as writer and storyteller over the long haul. As McKillip has written it is reality that feds the tales of imagination. It is the floating knowledge, mana'o lana as Manu Meyer translates the phrase that hovers in the atmosphere accessible to any, but, only a passing fog until someone eats the fog and transforms it into something sustaining. Food for the writer. Food for one reader. At this point, on this morning just before noon on this winter Saturday this writer has slowed to medium. Slowed the thinking or formation of floating knowledge long enough to consider eating it slowly, writing it medium, practicing the art of rubbing mana'o lana against the cave walls of my imagination.

I can feel the possibility of a mythic tale (I might grow it in some other place ... ), but, something grabs my fingers for a moment and I write ...

This is a different sort of winter. The fifth one for me, my man, my cat. We have come to know the woods, the trees, the creatures of the night, the winged ones who come and teach me how to speak their language. CAW. CAW. Gallump. As more and more trees are felled to make way for human occupation, they, the Ravens come to us more frequently. They track us. They follow the old turquoise Dodge truck, and swoop above the forest green Subaru. They watch us wherever we go, and talk to me when I climb from the driver's seat. I don't make up what they are saying to me. I imitate their language as best I can. I give me a C+ for mimicry. Sometimes a B+. They seem to like that I engage. We are outdoors so often. Few among the humans stay out side the roofed places. Raven come to know us. Are they losing tree top roosts with every tree fall? More than likely, given the pace at which the trees fall, not from wind but from saws, is not slow to medium.

This is a different sort of winter. The medicine stories begun two winters previous have rooted me sufficiently and I weather the new vulnerabilities triggered by the illness with the name MCS. I have no new story finished this winter. But. A space where the stories can be heated up and served to the real community where we live fuels me as I move slow to medium, or, in other cases I am slowed to medium because I forget that my natural pace at sixty-seven is a different sort of pace. It is a different sort of winter. Pausing to consider an ending the myth and the application of floating knowledge drums slowly in me. How many winters it has taken for me to recognize that I love the splits in the road, the possible ways words and tales might make themselves told ... over time. Fed well and often my imagination will remember the words and meanings of my Ancestors, and make sense of them in a different way. A way that accounts for the dozens of journeys I have taken in and out of the portal from the valley of my girlhood. Once was not enough to say, "Out I go. The pot too tight for me." Oh not, but then I was a girl a maiden fresh and firm-of-breast seeking new land.

This is a different sort of winter when I view the journey that began when first I remembered the feel of the letter A, or felt the surface of lined newsprint against my palm, relishing my Big Chief red notebook from the shelf of the Rexall Drug Store in Aina Haina. I was eight or ten, an age many girls were being initiated into their kuleana. Did I, could I have known, those were my early winter initiations as writer? No. I did not. But from this vantage point, I can say to that little brownie with eyes that really need glasses for a brighter future, "There will be different sorts of winters in your future. Keep practicing, Titi. Keep that fire burning there is more to come. Promise me?" I am glad I have kept practicing, pacing for the long haul. Mythic and fiction or a stab at noticing how the weaving and the feeding of a story could ramble like this.

What sort of winter is it for you? I'd love to hear your version of pacing for the long haul.


1 comment:

  1. Robert Moss had something to say about different speeds of time. He posts about "Kairos" on his blog


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