audience of one

I’ve never put much stock in birthdays as milestones, but I turned 69 today and that is striking me as a big deal somehow. The thought keeps piercing my comfortable laziness that I’ve got a year to get ready for the decade of my seventies. And that every moment counts.

So what do I want to do with this “rest of my life” question? Do I even want to address the mortality thing, to dream, dare and become — or bumble easily along admiring the sand as it flows to the bottom of the hourglass?

The decade of my fifties was a hotbed of creativity. By the close of 2010, I had become a pioneer blogger with a healthy readership and the joyful sharing that was part of those innocent, largely non-monetized times. We were all learning, and amazed at the interactive “message in a bottle” technology that brought us to each others’ shores within minutes. Several of my essays and flash stories were published, too. I dared to start calling myself “writer.” I even started writing a novel. Who hasn’t, right?

But it all slipped away. That energy. That fire. There was an imperative to write. to play the piano as I once did, and later, to create art. Can I get it back? Do I really want to? After all, I am in love and happy. But that hourglass troubles me, and what might have been. Is it possible to reclaim the creative life that was once my guiding light?

What will you bring to the table when you’re only performing for an audience of one. . .?

― Srinivas Rao, An Audience of One: Reclaiming Creativity for Its Own Sake

We are living in a strange time, where people — even writerly folk — are less inclined to give one another the benefit of the doubt; to be curious about one another rather than judgmental. A brittle time.

It goes against my old blogger grain to keep this journey I’m setting out on this morning private. But really, who else would find it interesting? It’s fascinating to me, of course, an audience of one.

Buck and I have nearly completed a three-year project to wrest full private property rights to our land back from a county stealth zoning overlay, (another story, more exciting than it might sound and full of more turns than a Western North Carolina mountain road). I have high physical and mental energy, drive, focus, and the sheer desire to reclaim a creative life.

Let’s get after it and see where it takes us.

Zion to Bryce: A Beautiful 72 Mile Drive

It has been almost a month since we returned to Pensacola from our Western road trip adventure. My desert tan has faded a little. Even the Florida sun can’t compete, especially since I’ve spent some time hiding out in the cool, dark cave of our house recovering from a non-trip-related back strain. All healed up now. In fact, we’re packing to head up to Maggie Valley, North Carolina’s cooler air for some serious porch sitting, valley gazing, hiking and visiting with friends.

We drove the 72 miles from Zion National Park to Bryce National Park on May Day. It has a dreamlike quality already, even from the distance of so short a time.

We left Zion from the east, drove through the long Zion to Mount Carmel tunnel built by the Conservation Corps and completed in 1930.

These are images in my mind now. They have become part of my dreamscape. Each of these rock formations have names and an incredible geological history. None of that matters to me in any visceral way. It is, instead, the way their essence has become emblazoned on my brain pan, the way they have absorbed me to become part of themselves, just as I have absorbed them to become an indelible part of me.

The road curves. We hurtle and spin in the surrealistic landscape of geological wonders.

Imagine. This is not a virtual tunnel. It was hacked, blown up, carved and taken out by the spoonful. It is real. It sustains the reality of the physical world. I traverse this tunnel and grow stronger, more real, for having experienced its essence.

Is it butterscotch? The other one chocolate mint?

Red rocks, hints of hoodoos. Bryce is my imagination’s imagination. The way to creativity begins here.

Tomorrow:  Hiking the valley floor at Bryce Canyon.