I’ve been exploring lately, ways of making my imagination grow back. You see, for a long time now, I’ve been stuck in a rut. I’ve read stuff that spans between high fantasy and sword and sorcery, but never really looked at other genres in depth for quite some time. Science fiction has occasionally plundered my mind’s treasure rooms and let things escape, but I was like a child told to eat frozen peas when they’ve only ever had the mushy canned ones. “Yuck! Gross! I don’ wanna!” Well, apparently, I forgot that I’m supposed to be a grown-up now (Stop laughing! I am too a grown-up!), and that I just might like my vegetables now.
Some of the pleasant surprises have simply been that books I consumed prior to the rut have been read again. Oh, and they’re tasty. I’ve refined my palate in ways I didn’t realize. So, I’ve enjoyed the rich and meaty taste of Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber so much more, though I can feel some of the savory bits running down my chin into my beard. I can get a sense of what I might find next time I cook that meal. What a beautiful flambé of fantasy and sci-fi. Oh-so-tasty. And I can’t forget the Edgar Allen Poe. Murders in the Rue Morgue, which I was brave enough to nibble at about six weeks ago, is like eating bits of dark chocolate while sipping hot coffee and inhaling deeply. It made me feel intelligent to watch the treat brew while the house filled up with that lusty aroma. (Sweet, I said lusty.) Yet, I still felt a bit like the child who asks his mother, “What’s for dinner?”, and gets the over-simple reply, “Food.” But once the table is set, sweet googly-moogly is that GOOD stuff.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve had to eat some liver and onions along the way, but it wasn’t so bad. It helped me learn what I like, and what I can’t digest (at least right now). As I drug myself through the drama portion of my Intro to Lit course last summer, it was as if I ate the dessert first, and forgot to feed the rest to the dog. Oedipus the King by Sophocles was yummy. Watching Oedipus go through his grand downfall was like watching caramel topping getting slowly oozed over silky French Vanilla ice cream, and reading it cooled the throat and settled the mind’s simple need for a cool treat in summer. A Dollhouse by Henrik Ibsen was kind of like the fish that you toss in the oven and forget to season. Kind of bland, but you take it in for the sustenance and after a while, you realize it was good for you because it helped you feel full, and next time you’ll remember the lemon pepper. Then, I took a big ole bite of Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. This was the liver. No doubt about it. By the time I was done reading it, I felt like I had when I was a kid and I had to sit at the table until I cleaned my plate. Miller took so long to get to the point that I just wasn’t interested any more. The point was for me to find the scenes of suffering in the play, and the biggest scene of suffering I found was me reading the damned play. Fortunately, that was when I decided another dessert was in order, and read Poe’s The Raven.
I’ve been enjoying a great deal of the literature that I’ve been reading over the last few years, since I’ve returned to school as a “non-traditional student.” I think that’s really the thing that brings about what we seek in education and reading: enjoyment. Just like we think of a good meal or a luxurious treat and our mouths start to water, I’m starting to daydream about new adjectives and adverbs, or subtle and deep metaphors (or not so subtle when you look at the prior paragraph), and my mind starts to water as I do. I’m finding my passion for being something more than I am again. I’ve found myself in the kitchen of a writer, and I might make a few messes, but damn it, I’m going to be a chef by the time it’s all said and done. My imagination is growing again, with the aid of the proper nutrition. Good writers READ.
And now, for your dessert, as cooked up by the master chef, Robert Frost.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
I hope you enjoyed. I did. It was kind of like mint ice cream, I think.