Today I’ve driven all over the state of Connecticut, and I’ll be honest, I look at the woods and see the ghosts of the Pequot who conceded this land to English settlers. I also think of Benedict Arnold, a native son of Connecticut, betraying his own neighbors in battle after he defected. These woods could talk, if given the chance. Instead I rely on the whispers of those who came before, and it’s really hard to hear them over the hum of highway traffic and bulldozers clearing more land for commercial development. There’s a lot I love about Connecticut, but the ever-expanding development isn’t one of those things. Knowing the history of a place makes you angry when you see that place abused, and too much development feels abusive to me. Does that make me a preservationist? Probably. Venus and the moon are dancing this evening, and the wind is howling in Connecticut, as if voicing it’s displeasure at being left out of the tango in the sky. I stared at the two for a few minutes and left them to finish their dance as I checked into my hotel for the night. It’s not lost on me that I complain about development while staying in hotels and driving on highways and visiting customers in office buildings. I don’t have a problem with development when it’s done well, it just seems to be mostly down and dirty profit-maximization development in most cases, and where’s the magic in that? I love the quiet corners of Connecticut, and wish that there were more of them preserved for the future.
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” – Anais Nin
The beauty of writing every day is in the magic you relive in the moments you’ve lived, and in pulling magic out of the air that you weren’t even aware of until you start typing. I’m not sure why I waited so long to begin writing, but I know I can’t go back to not doing it. Writing is transformative for the writer, as reading is for the reader. I’m currently being transformed by reading Josh Waitzkin, Leo Tolstoy, Ryan Holiday, Jack Gilbert, Mary Oliver and Nathaniel Philbrick. I’m in a routine where I’ll read a few pages of Waitzin, Tolstoy and Holiday in succession and a poem or two from Gilbert and Oliver early in the morning. I read Philbrick in the evening in a traditional book because I appreciate the tactile experience of reading a book more in the evenings and don’t want to start my day wearing reading glasses, thank you.
All this highway driving around Connecticut reminded me of an unpleasant moment five years ago as I was driving up I-95 through Connecticut. A man had committed suicide by jumping in front of an 18-wheeler that had no chance of swerving out of his way. I was close enough to the situation that they hadn’t covered up the body yet, and I still see the face of the man staring blankly in my direction as his broken body lay unnaturally twisted like a bag of laundry broke on the pavement. I’ve never been to war, but I imagine my experience with this man shortly after his demise was close to what a soldier might experience. One moment you’re talking to a person, the next they’re a corpse. We’re all just bags of flesh and blood and bones. What makes us alive is our spirit and an energy force of electrical and intangible energy. That man on the highway chose to give back his energy to the universe, and his body became nothing more than broken matter on the pavement. Aren’t we so much more than that?
That intangible energy carries on long after we’re gone through the people we’ve touched in our lives, but what of future generations who never knew us? Well, I never met Mark Twain or Henry David Thoreau or Mary Oliver, but I feel their intangible energy in the words that they write. I never met Katherine Hepburn but I feel her energy when I drive through Old Saybrook, Connecticut. And I never met Coleman Hawkins but I’m stopped in my tracks whenever I hear him preach through his saxophone playing Mood Indigo. We’re more than a bag of bones and blood. Our humanity comes from that intangible energy. When we interact with others face-to-face or through their words on the page it creates sparks, changing us. Don’t we owe it to the world to pay this energy forward? To weave our own version of magic?
So that’s the mission, isn’t it? Make it your life goal to take that intangible energy, that life force, and transcend the flesh and blood we live in. Offering more to the world requires learning more, seeking to understand more, observing more, and becoming more. And in return we reverberate beyond the now. That seems a better path to me. Focus on the contribution, and don’t worry about stupid things like WordPress changing you to Block Editor all the time. There’s so much more to do with the time you have. Get to it already.