Monday, October 24, 2011

A Slice of Heaven

The brown and tan calf caught my eye. I was driving by a field in early morning, sequestered tightly in my own little world of deadlines, duties and disconnects.

And suddenly there he was. A mere toddler in bovine society, I suspect. I braked to watch him. So full of mischief as he romped and cavorted and nose-butted the larger calves.and nipped at the tails of the mama cows who stomped him away in annoyance.

So full of life. So full of joy. He made me smile.  And a tiny seed of longing was planted in my chest.

And then just down the road, I passed a yard where a little blond girl in a blue dress was chasing a purple butterfly. Her innocent face wreathed in smiles, she leapt and sprang, running and laughing and running some more for the sheer joy of it.

Now that seed of longing in my innards was sprouting into a firm stalk of yearning. Yearning to once again do something for the sheer joy of it. Unhurried. Unstructured. Unrequired. Simply because I wanted to.

Yep, I remember feeling just that way a long, long time ago. How do I get that back? Can I get that back in the midst of my ever busy, urgent paced, production-oriented adult existence?

And then this weekend, at a writer's conference of all places, the opportunity presented itself.

I had just finished presenting "Ten Things Every New Writer Should Know" and was not only exhausted but a bit exasperated. Due to technical difficulties with the hotel meeting room, I'd lost ten minutes from my presentation which was already over-packed with trying to cram 90 minutes of information into a 75-minute workshop. I was still irritated that I'd been forced to omit what I considered the most important page of points and skip to a very rushed ending when the moderator stuck her head in the door to announce a two-minute warning.

I had two hours to kill before my next appointment, so I changed into my walking shoes, jumped in my car and drove to a nearby industrial park (which was abandoned on Saturday) and began pounding my frustration out on the oak-lined streets winding around manicured lawns of tall glass buildings and a lovely pond with its peacock-spray fountain.

After an hour I ran out of gas and sank onto a sun-dappled park bench for just a moment to regroup. With only the sounds of fountain spray, chirping birds, and squirrels scampering up broad oak trees to accompany my solitude, I soon found myself sprawled across the bench on my back. As the shade melted my tense muscles, a cool breeze rustled my sweat-soaked hair, and thin shafts of sunlight peeking through oak leaves warmed my skin, I watched wispy white clouds scuttle overhead. Every now and then a lazy hawk would bank left and glide unfettered through my field of vision.

And there it was.. An unexpected slice of heaven. The quenching answer to my thirst for that long-lost whimsical moment of childhood freedom. 

The thought then hit me: Why can't writers do this in their writing? Evoke that feeling of childhood summertime by their words? Do the fast pace, looming deadlines, and urgency of production in our lives and our careers prohibit finding this elusive feeling? And transferring it to others?

If we could but find this place, this slice of heaven, couldn't we reflect that peace through our words?

What are your thoughts?