Imaginary Forces

•February 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The side of the building read IMAGINARY FORCES in large orange letters: presumably the name of the company housed within. I wondered what it would be like to work there and to tell people “I work for Imaginary Forces”. I had to imagine that this was a company that worked with creativity in some way: advertising, maybe. ( It turns out that it is a video production company which makes perfect sense). It got me thinking about imaginary forces, which got me thinking about invisible forces and wondering where the difference lay. Some are easy to categorize: gravity is an invisible force, but is easy to prove, while destiny is an imaginary force that exerts a certain influence on one’s life just through belief. But there was a gray area too: what about creativity? Storytelling? Faith? Religion? 
What does it mean to be imaginary? There is a slight sense of falseness behind the word. Calling something “imaginary” is an easy way to dismiss something that cannot easily be quantified by objective reality. An imaginary friend is somehow less valid than a real friend. We tell people “You’re imagining things” when they claim to see patterns or details that we don’t see ourselves. Imaginary is somehow equated with Not Real. But is it the same thing? 

The definition for Imaginary comes up as:

existing only in the imagination.

“Chris had imaginary conversations with her”

Synonyms: unreal, non-existent, fictional, fictitious, pretend, makebelieve, mythical, fabulous, fanciful

And the definition of Imagination as: 

The faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.

“she’d never been blessed with a vivid imagination”

synonyms: creative power, fancyvision; More

  • the ability of the mind to be creative or resourceful.

    “technology gives workers the chance to use their imagination”

    synonyms: creativityimaginativeness, creativeness;
  • the part of the mind that imagines things.

    “a girl who existed only in my imagination”

So to have imagination is good, but to belive in the imaginary is fanciful and foolish. Why? And how does one decide what is a useful tool and what is a distraction or waste of attention. 

Start Again

•February 20, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The anxiety is back. 

Don’t ask me what I’m anxious about. I’m not anxious about anything, I just woke up feeling like I was on fire and knowing that there would be no further refuge in sleep. I wrote a whole blog about it while on the bus on my way to work comparing the way that it seeped into my mind to the way that rain water setups in around the escape hatches of the buses to drip into the cabin. It was thoughtful and philosophical and I would love to share it with you but it is also, somehow, gone. Disappeared. Poof. Like it never existed off my phone. I tried restarting the app. Gone. I tried restarting the phone. Still gone. I’m so angry that I want to destroy something. The last thing I feel like doing is starting over, but since I can’t do anything else, here I am: redoing the work that should have been done by now because some technological blip has conveniently dismissed my effort. 

I should be used to this by now, but frankly I’m in no mood to be philosophical about it.

Birds and Weeds

•February 19, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I’ve started naming them. So far I have Captain Redhead, Dottie, and Tony Stark

Between rain showers, I spent all of Saturday pulling weeds. Since the entire backyard consists of nothing BUT weeds this was an all day activity and I barely made a dent although the compost heap got several feet taller and I can barely move now from all the bending and reaching. It turns out that pulling weeds satisfies the same little obsessive part of my mind that enjoys plucking hairs: once I get started I could do it all day only to regret it for days afterwards. 

It also turns out that gardening may be good exertion, but won’t help you lose weight, considering that I put on a full pound between yesterday and today even after running twice and a full day of gardening. 

We refilled and rehung the hummingbird feeder on Saturday. By sunset today they had drunk it dry again, sometimes coming in a swarm of eight or ten to drink two at a time from each nozzle. After going for my run I stood out under the eaves by the backdoor to see how close they would let me get. One of them hovered about six inches from my left ear, just outside my peripheral vision, buzzing like an enormous beetle while I suppressed the urge to flinch each time one darted forward. I have this vision of trying to get one to land on my hand, but honestly my own reflex to flinch when loudly buzzing objects come flying towards my face at high velocity tipped with an inch long beak is likely to prevent me from ever being a still enough target for any of the birds to land. 

Aside from weed pulling and bird luring, we had a family friend come over for lunch for a visit today, which was great fun. And it gave me the excuse and motivation to tidy up the house. Later in the evening I went to my writers’ group for some notes on a script that I’ve written, once again venturing out into a dark and rainy night in pursuit of my art. Tomorrow it will be back to the business of payroll, although as a holiday I’m at least looking forward to a light commute. It’s the little things in life.

Doors Closing

•February 16, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The train arrived at the station, but the doors didn’t open. Pressed in the middle of a crowd, I didn’t make it to the far end of the car in time to exit through one of the other doors and found myself a captive passenger, bound for the next station. The detour was annoying, but was not a major disruption to my routine. I exited at the next station and caught a train going back the other way within a few minutes and was back on track without even running late. I did find myself realizing just how much I expect things to work a certain way: expecting doors to open, for instance, and failing to respond quickly enough to avoid being sidetracked when they don’t open the way that I expect. On the other hand, I do have the capacity to learn from this, so now I have more choice about whether it happens again. 

The bus route diverts off the highway in order to stop near the UCLA campus. Each day, it passes a gym walled with glass. Every day I find myself searching the figures for The Redhead: a doppelganger who appears on one of the stair steppers near the windows once or twice each week- just infrequently enough that I am never one hundred percent certain that I haven’t imagined her. I keep trying to capture a photo of her like a Bigfoot enthusiast trying to prove the existence of an urban Sasquatch. The results have been about what one might expect from a camera phone from a moving bus through two panes of glass. Who knows, maybe she searches out the window each day for the redheaded doppelganger who rides the bus past her gym. 

I wonder what it would be like to meet somebody with whom I share an uncanny resemblance. People say that my sister Bean and I look a lot alike, but we don’t see it as much since we grew up together- but to meet a stranger who looks just like you must be very strange indeed. 

The Secret to Eternal Youth and Beauty

•February 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

This is not me but I like to pretend that it is.

“If your life were a movie, who would you want to play you?” 

“Jessica Chastain, duh.”

“But she’s older than you.”

“She’s hotter than me too.”

It was one of those conversations that a normal person would have forgotten by now, but some part of my brain held onto it for further review and coughed it up again a day or two ago, for no apparent reason, as I was walking out of work. And being me, I decided to take it apart to examine the pieces. 

So, today in Gwydhar Overthinks Things: My Life As A Movie.

First, there is the assumption that some part of my life is or will be movie worthy. Since no one is beating down my door to buy my life- rights, I think it’s safe to assume that my personal narrative arc is still in the early stages. At present, I’d say that I’m in a montage sequence where a lot of time gets skipped over while the character learns skills and prepares for an adventure ahead. There’s probably a lot of useful exposition being planted right now, so I ought to pay attention to the people crossing my path because they might be important. And I ought to be on the lookout for catch phases because now’s as good a time as ever to begin the marketing campaign. 

With this assumption in mind, I must also assume that the main part of my adventure is still in the future, which means that I’ll be older by the time it actually happens, which means that I’ll be older still by the time someone else decides it’s worthy of a biopic (because making your own biopic is a bit self interested). And by the time it gets funded and greenlit I’ll probably be dead. And I’m planning to live to be a hundred and twenty so, alas, I’ll probably never get to see my life on screen as portrayed by Jessica Chastain. 

So that’s the bad news.

Let’s say that this coming year is the year that turns out to be movie worthy. Let’s pretend that the montage is about to fade out and tomorrow I am going to get The Call saying that the princess needs to be rescued or the space station blown up or the Ark of the Covenant rescued from Nazi’s and that on Friday I set out on my adventure. I still have to live through it, and, I mean, these things take time. Empires aren’t toppled in a day. 

So I’m thirty four now. Let’s say that I’m able to squeeze all the important acts of derring do into a year or two. I’ll be thirty six or thirty seven, but the movie would need to cast someone who could look thirty four, which in this town means casting someone who is twenty six. And while we’re on the subject, there’s the matter of hotness- I’d consider myself somewhere in the neighborhood of a seven on a ten point hotness scale, but you can get more butts in seats with a ten, so I can safely presume that my image will be upgraded for the sake of marketability. 

So the movie version of me is younger and hotter than me. And immortal. It is the movie version of me that people will start to remember as the real me in the same way that I can’t help but think of Frida Khalo without thinking of her as portrayed by Selma Hayek.  

So my takeaway is that if I want to stay young and beautiful forever, all I have to do is live a life interesting enough to turn into a Hollywood movie. It’s a little bit like the reverse of The Picture of Dorian Grey where, in real life, I can get as old and gnarled as I please while still appearing to stay young forever. 

As long as it’s not a prestige piece. Oh god, please don’t let my life turn out to be Oscar bait.

•February 13, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Dangit. I made the mistake of going on Facebook before bed and now I’m restless and annoyed and in no mood or mindset to write, but since I didn’t write a post yesterday I’m forcing myself to write one today. Or to at least make the attempt. 

I just watched the Grammys, which we recorded last night, mostly fast forwarding to the various tribute performances. I’ve never actually watched the Grammys before- mostly I was interested to watch it this year because of the paperwork I’ve been grinding through at work: it’s edifying to get to look at the tv and say to yourself “my job makes that possible”. Especially when your job is not-so-glorified data entry. 

The show itself seemed fine: it only seemed to touch upon a razor thin segment of the musical world. I don’t deny the talents of artists like Adele or Beyonce, but I just don’t listen to them either. I mean, I do- because they’re everywhere, like it or not, but I don’t choose to pump it into my earholes. It just doesn’t speak to me. 

But what do I know, right?

Anyway, that was kind of my evening. I’m beginning to feel a bit more focused and optimistic even though I’m still in a bit of limbo with my goal setting. I’ve started making the bed again. That feels like progress. 

Maybe Enough

•February 12, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The hummingbirds have discovered the bird feeder. For weeks it hung outside the kitchen window, forlorn and ignored, until very suddenly the liquid was gone and we needed to refill it. Today, I stepped outside to put some eggshells in the compost bucket and looked up to see two hummingbirds hovering nearby, trying to gauge whether it was worth the risk of coming within arm’s length to get to the feeder. I held very still. They evidently decided that this was a good sign and fluttered in for a drink. A third one approached, sticking out his threadlike tongue like a dog panting with anticipation as he waited for one of the feeding holes to become available. Through the course of the day they came in fours and fives: zipping back and forth, utterly unconcerned about the humans watching them through the window. Doing the dishes suddenly became a lot more entertaining. In the course of a single day they’ve consumed about a fifth of the volume of syrup in it: at this rate we may need to refill it by Wednesday.

In the afternoon the weather turned dark and rainy and a headache settled over me while we were out running errands. I came home and curled up on the bed for an attempt at a nap. A cat came to join me, but struggled to get comfortable and would get up to turn in a circle every few minutes preventing me from fully falling asleep. 

At last I got up and forced myself to go out for a run. The weather had cleared but was still cool and it would have been so much easier just to stay inside and relax. My iPod was nearly out of charge so I selected some of the longest songs that I had: medleys of film themes by John Williams, and just let them play.

As I made it my turning point, I was listening to the medley of themes from E.T. which always makes me think of my late professor Kenny Hall. As I ran, I wondered where he was and whether there was an afterlife or a god or whether it was only the here and now upon which our entire lives find meaning. Here I was, literally running in a circle: going out and turning around to retrace my steps to go home without going anywhere. Was it a waste? I don’t consider myself to be an especially religious person: I’m somewhere between a rational agnostic and a spiritual atheist. I don’t believe in god, per se, but I believe in the possibility of a higher power: I believe that I cannot know all things and that in the places between the unknown and unknowable there is a beautiful doubt where god could exist. Somehow, as I thought this, the idea opened some deep part of me and I was suddenly overcome with a mighty emotion that I could only describe as agape- not the thin, elegant spiritualism of doves and light, but a tide of feeling so strong that I started to cry because there was nothing else I could do. I became aware that I was a part of something so huge and complex that I was experiencing the tiniest pinprick of it and it was surging up in me until I was sobbing as I ran: Loud and ugly, glad that no one was around to see or hear me. I kept running, somehow utterly pain free, somehow not struggling for breath. I suddenly realized how painful it is to be loved- we think of love as comforting and pleasurable, but it is deeply painful too: to know that you exist with such meaning and worth. I kept looking to the luminous sky in the west, still radiant with the setting sun, marveling at how much beauty there was in this world that I was a part of. I was reminded that not every journey has to go into unexplored places to be meaningful: that sometimes it is just to go out into the world for the sake of strengthening our bodies and seeing the world- and that at the end will always be home. 

The sobbing only lasted about a half a mile. For the rest of the run I felt a sense of calm after the onrush, although it is coming back to me with nearly equal intensity as I write this. For my recent feelings of frustration and directionlessness, this felt like a response, if not an answer, from whatever power runs the clockwork behind my life. I still don’t know my way or my worth, but I know I’m not nothing. I know the world isn’t empty. I know that at the end of it all I will find my way home. And maybe that’s enough.

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