Dawn and Dusk

Few things are impossible, but describing a sunset is one of them. It’s like trying to take a selfie with a skyscraper or recreate a Beatles song using only a rock and a stick. You might as well teach a tiger to play checkers. You might as well give up before you start.

What would you say to somebody who had never seen the sun set over the ocean? “Well there were lots of yellows, and then the yellows turned to oranges, and then…”

Some people don’t know this, but our Earth is connected to a parallel universe of magic. We are only connected to this magical universe twice a day – ever day at Dusk and Dawn – during these two times we swing just close enough to this magical universe that a tiny bit of it bleeds through.

The change that takes place during sunset (or sunrise) is blatantly subtle. You know some wacky magic is happening right in front of your eyes, but it’s faster than a hummingbird and gone before you even grab. You can’t freeze it. To take a picture of a sunset is like drawing a rainbow with only one crayon. This is because a sunset dances, not walks, across the red carpet of time. A sunset moves as slowly and surely as your fingernails grow. It moves at the speed of a blooming rose, a climbing vine, a ripening fruit. It moves at the rate that a child grows. You know it’s happening, but you can’t pinpoint exactly where.

Another big problem is, in order to describe an ocean sunset you’d have to somehow re-create wind through the viewers hair. A chilly wind but slightly warm. A wind that isn’t cold but is somehow getting colder. A sunset is not all about color, it’s not all about light, it’s also the air density, the twist of the wind, the blue blanket of night being draped across the bedtime sky.

Sunsets just wouldn’t be romantic if they made sense from all angles. The day belongs to science, and the night belongs to rest, these things are well understood. But the dusk and the dawn, those are something else entirely. Something that reminds us of the truths we knew before we got born.

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Yo No Soy Yo: Monday, July 27th

The beginning is the holiest part of every journey.

A little child has a million potential lives ahead of them. They’re like a round stone on the tip-top of a mountain peak. Whichever way they’ll roll is anybodies guess. And as that child grows into an adult, they make decisions about what to do and where to go, and slowly but surely all those possibilities they once had, they start to fossilize into footprints, photos, and stories of the past. Those potential paths become trails we’ve travelled and remember.

And that’s what literature is at the most basic level: footprints in the snow. Everybody has a story, a trail they’ve left behind them. A coyote in the mountains has slowly typed his story into the earth, over the course of years, step by step, decision by decision.

The weird beauty of life is that every single day we keep getting reborn. Every night the sun goes down and I go to “sleep” – which is a mysterious, powerful, empty kind of death-journey where nobody knows exactly what happens – and God pushes the Big Red Button that says “Reset” – and I wake up 8 hours later thinking, “huh?”

The morning is the holiest part of every day.

This is because, in the morning, your day has unlimited potential to manifest in any way imaginable. Maybe today is the day you make a big change. Maybe today is the day you ______.

Now I am not a morning person or a night owl. I am not an introvert or an extrovert. I am not an optimist or a pessimist. I am not a spiritualist or a materialist or a conservative or a vegetarian.

In fact, as of today, every label that I used to use to personally brand myself is now synonymous with the word “nothing”.

Like this: I am a nothing. I was born in nothing town, which as you know is the capital of South Nothing. I am a devout follower of nothing-ism.

Or if “nothing” is sounds too much like buddhism, we can take a page from Kurt Vonnegut and invent our own word.

I am a Furrowitz. My friends all know me as a Furrowitz person. Every year for the past 35 years I’ve voted Furrowitz.

That’s a little better. Now the labels that define me sound more like nonsense, which is what they were in the first place. Whatever I did yesterday, or for the last 50 years, has no bearing on this morning. Today is a new day. And what’s more, it’s the beginning of something.

Yo No Soy Yo

(I am not I)

-by Juan Ramon Jimenez

I am this one

walking beside me whom I do not see,

whom at times I manage to visit,

and whom at other times I forget;

who remains calm and silent while I talk,

and forgives, gently, when I hate,

who walks where I am not,

who will remain standing when I die.

Before Monday sweeps me away, and I get all caught up in the monopoly game of life, these are some things I’m going to try and remember. I’m going to laugh at absurdity when it rears it’s goofy head, instead of being afraid or reacting in anger.

I am just going to let myself be myself, calm and silent and forgiving.

This week has all kinds of potential power hidden underneath the surface, like the tip of an iceberg that’s as big as a mountain underwater.

Contrary to popular belief, Monday is not a Shit Day. It’s the holiest part of every week. I just had to walk around it, to the opposite side; from this angle it looks completely different.

Love Your Ideas: Friday, July 17th

“Where do you get your ideas?” It’s the question that successful creatives get asked over and over and over again.

The author Neil Gaiman says that his ideas come from out of nowhere. “I make them up. Out of my head.”

The problem is, that’s not a very satisfying answer for the aspiring writer who want to know, “how can I find some million dollar ideas?”

Gaiman suggests asking yourself some questions, and following those questions down the rabbit hole. Personally I really like these prompts:

  • What if…?
  • If only…
  • I wonder what…
  • Wouldn’t it be interesting if…
  • If this goes on…
  • What if I engineered a tree that sprouted dollar bills?
  • What if I woke up with wings?
  • What if someone gave me the secret book that explained, in detail, the truth of all conspiracies and historical secrets – the truth about all religions, leaders, wars, and kingdoms?
  • If only I could have a conversation with my great, great, great grandfather…
  • I wonder what toys do when people aren’t around?
  • Wouldn’t it be interesting if the global currency was a system of smiles and hugs?
  • If this goes on, and humans finally replace ourselves with robots, then what’s in line to replace the robots?

In Gaiman’s article, he says,

“You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.”

I found this quote very telling. And it goes back to my idea the importance of habits. Authors and creatives like Neil Gaiman have been developing ideas for so long that the process has become second nature.

They have the same amount of ideas as anyone, but they are more aware, more tuned into the process. They’ve got a notepad on them at all times, or (like one author I heard recently) they dictate speech into their phones while they’re waiting around at the bus stop.

An idea can be a person or a place or an image, from which you start and begin to build. The single idea itself is only a jumping off point. When you combine one idea with another, then you’re off to a good start. But the magic really happens in the development, the fleshing out of the idea – which is a process that takes work. It takes brainstorming, writing and re-writing, constantly turning the object over in your hands to view it from all sides. This is the point where the author gets their hands dirty.

To creatives, ideas are cherished, loved and nurtured. The nurturing and development is what turns those seeds into saplings, and those saplings into forests, into entire ecosystems and solar systems. Now the reader, or the listener, or the casual observer, can come inside to this new world and have a look around, play for a while, even connect emotionally and get involved and become changed themselves by the idea. And that’s magic at it’s finest.