Saturday, December 8, 2012

Muscle Memory

Read a story at the cool journal, Still: The Journal the other day. I didn't think I was going to enjoy it. Haven't read in a while, and it felt like returning to some hip secret club where you forgot all the rules and handshakes and inside jokes that make being a part of such a group satisfying. I just read the words like I was assessing the first colors of the day. I didn't sense what was coming. A year ago, I would have. I would have winked at the foreshadowing, put it on the inner clipboard, and waited to see how well it was utilized to drive the theme home. I looked for gimmicks and techniques used like jazz hands pressed into paper. But now the words just came, one after another, and I didn't care where they went. Joy ride. Lazy stroll. But it was good. The story. It had a William Gay flavor to it I liked. Slow and southern with rust. Made me feel like my parents reading Faulkner for the first time or something. Felt like I was missing all kinds of easy ones.

But slowly the old feeling returned. There. Yep, I see it. Oh, and there. I started to recognize imagery and symbol. The story never rose above its intent, and it was appreciated. Years ago I would have disparaged it for feeling it was trying hard enough. But now, here, I appreciateed it, its theme and the way it was being carried out, achieving a kind of harmony with its nod to the past (literature and life), the tenuous present (with our hands covering our eyes), and the future, which for many of us growing older against our will, seems slowly to be arriving in shiny trucks and guns mounted and always loaded.

Some of the observations from this story started turning it back in its reader. Chig doesn't partake in dinner. He is the hermit, not ready to return. Rick has become a part of the world, which distances himself from Chig. The missing step on the stair, the danger of passing time. A hand over the face and the unwillingness to see what's out there. Takes the chance to leave his Eden only to try to return, before it is too late. So yeah, you see where this is going. I started to see myself as Chig. You leave the world long enough and you find yourself unable to go back. The dance continues, but when you decide to join in again, the feet don't move like they used to.

But like Chig, sometimes you find yourself being pulled back. You go because you feel it. You may no longer have what it takes to survive, but if you gotta' go, go trying.

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