There is a calmness in being next to a horse that trusts you.
There is a calmness in being next to a horse that trusts you.
What would we do without notebooks—the kind you actually write in?
I often wonder if they are becoming obsolete. Everything is digital today or soon will be, and that is a detriment of our society, our culture.
The latest book I am reading is Digital Storytelling. It’s about “capturing lives and creating community.” Thousands of years ago, before there was a written language, we had oral storytelling. Even our religious books—the Bible, the Quran, etc., began as oral histories. Even what is considered the oldest story in the world, the story of Gilgamesh, from between the land of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, a thousand years older than the bible, was an oral story before it was recorded on baked clay tablets in cuneiform characters—a very ancient “notebook.”
And now? We have digital storytelling. Digital cameras. Digital audio recorders. Computers, laptops and iPads. What has happened to the good old pencil and paper?
Here’s what a notebook does for me. It slows me down to gather my thoughts, and then to put them on paper. Impulsive thoughts may come and go, but they are always self critiqued. That’s when a good eraser comes in or lining out that sentence or paragraph.
There is a drawback, a negative to good old fashioned pen and paper. The difficulty is coming back to something I wrote sometime ago and trying to decipher my hand writing! When it’s no longer fresh in my mind, that scribbling can be terribly hard to read. Maybe I should have paid more attention to penmanship in grade school.
On the other hand, the benefits of a notebook are portability and reliability. It takes up very little space. A notebook operates consistently even if the user does not. It can be easily carried in a pocket, purse camera gear bag, briefcase or backpack. It requires no electricity nor a wireless connection. And perhaps the most profound use of a pen and notebook is that it is capable or recording the deepest thoughts of the user, if the user is willing to reveal themselves.
So, how did this post come to be? I wrote it in a notebook, and then transcribed it on the computer. The notebook came first. The computer allowed me to publish it.
A good old-fashioned notebook! Don’t leave home without it.
See you on the highway.
End note: If you have never read the story of Gilgamesh, do yourself a favor and visit your library. It is a wonderful piece of ancient literature, full of friendship, love and tragedy. Enough so that one episode of Star Trek Next Generation was wrapped around this ancient story, “Darmok” Season 5, Episode 2. It first aired September 28, 1991.
Sometimes, you just need a good kick in the butt to restart something. In my case, I decided the University of New Mexico Writer’s Workshop at Santa Fe was just the ticket to get my writing juices rejuvenated.
And, it was. The instructor, Stephen Benz, was very good at helping us focus on our writing voices, and my classmates were helpful with their comments and feedback. That’s how a writer’s workshop is supposed to work, and the Santa Fe workshop was well worth the time and effort.
But there are other opportunities for rejuvenation, and mine came on a 15 second ride on the elevator.
I like to rise early, get a cup of coffee and do a little writing and checking e-mail and Facebook. I had done that, and was ready for more coffee and some breakfast. I walked to the Drury Inn elevator, and pushed the down button.
The doors open. There are three people going down—two men and a woman, and it does not appear that any of them are together. It’s the way they are standing and riding the elevator—like strangers giving each other distance. I step aboard, and say to the woman who is standing at the controls and say, “Second floor, please.” I watch her smile, turn and press the button. She looks very familiar. She is lovely, even in her sweats and t-shirt. Jammies?
It took me about five seconds to think, “This is Andy MacDowell the actress.” In that moment, I think I slopped some coffee because I felt it on my hand, and looked down to make sure I didn’t slop coffee on me.
We arrive at the 2nd Floor, and we all walk off the elevator to the breakfast area. She walks to the coffee bar, grabs a cup and fills it, then disappears back to the elevator.
It’s not often that a guy from the Midwest meets a celebrity. Such a chance encounter is unheard of, and frankly, I wanted another glimpse to see if my first guess was correct.
This moment at the writer’s workshop fueled my passion for writing again, writing about this encounter, writing about all my other adventures. It became my muse. She became my muse.
Through the day, while passing through the hotel to my class or back to my room, I’d glance around, hoping for another encounter, but it was not to be. I thought about what I might say to this woman, but there was no sighting. I would have to settle for that brief moment in the elevator.
So, if it was you, Andie MacDowell, the lovely and talented actress, thank you for that smile and brief encounter on the elevator. And if it was not you, but someone who could have been your twin, I was at least half right. Just lovely. Thank you.
I have done many things in the course of my 65 years, and I hope to do a lot more. There have been many journeys, like my solo motorcycle rides on the Pony Express Trail or the Oregon Trail, but none as good or as long as this one.
Today, May 23rd, 2016, is the 30-year anniversary of marriage to my best friend, my companion, my confidant, my lover, my wife, Lin.
When you are dating, and trying to decide what your relationship is going to be with this other person, it’s not unusual to have doubts. Maybe that’s youth, or maybe it’s the fear of making a mistake. With Lin, I came to realize that this is the person I am supposed to be with. She is my soul mate. Maybe we were together in a previous life or will be again, but I know, that I know, that I know she is the one.
From the moment I met her, I knew she was unique, perhaps the most interesting and unique woman I ever met. While we were dating, she had a hand in the decision for me to enter the ministry. And even more so, she married me while I was pastoring a small rural church in Illinois. Not many women take on the role of Pastor’s Wife, but she did. She was a great PW and the congregation loved her. We left the formal ministry when decisions needed to be made and opportunities arose. We faced that together, and it gave our young marriage strength.
I am not sure if it is our love that creates the respect for each other, or the respect that strengthens our love. But, I do know this, respect is vital to a relationship and it carries over into friendships and business associations. Having respect for others is vital to building relationships, trust and community. And it is respect that motivates us to serve our family, friends and others.
We have had some wonderful travels and adventures, like our first trip to Florida together, spending some time in a condo overlooking the beach at Panama City Beach. Eating great food. Walking the beach during the day, and listening to the waves crash on shore at night with the patio doors wide open all night long.
Our travels in 2004 and 2005 took us along the Lewis and Clark Trail for the L&C Bicentennial. With our birthdays in November, two days apart, we went to Oregon to celebrate the Lewis and Clark event at the Pacific, “Oh the Joy. Pacific in view.” William Clark wrote that in his diary on November 7, 1805. My birthday, November 7. What an incredible adventure.
Then, for our 25th, we had to do some creative planning because Lin was attending a conference in Reno. So, I flew to Reno at the end of her conference to meet her. The next day, we boarded Amtrak for an 8-hour ride to San Francisco where we stayed for several nights in a motel in the Fisherman’s Wharf district.
Great food, cable cars, China Town, Golden Gate Bridge and ferries. We enjoyed it all. Then we boarded a shuttle bus to the airport, and flew home. Our 25th was truly a journey of planes, trains and automobiles.
Years ago, there was that camping trip to Colorado where the nights were quite cold. There were the birthday and anniversary weekends to see art, musicians, theatrical performances and weekends away in a cabin in the woods. The journey has been a good one, a blessed one.
When we married, I remember sitting at breakfast the morning after our ceremony. I think we were still on a cloud, and of course, we still tell this story as we did the other night when we had dinner with friends. Lin said, “I have three rules for you. No beating. No cheating. No butt crack.” It’s good to have rules.
I don’t know where the time went. It doesn’t feel like 30 years. It has not been about the destinations in our travels. Destinations like Toronto, Seattle, San Francisco, Nashville and more were wonderful travels and getaways. But it has been the every day routines of getting up, going to work, cooking and cleaning, building homes, taking walks while holding hands, and making a life together that has been the greatest journey. It has been the best journey of my life.
“This is dedicated to the one I love.”
The last days of 2015 are filled with thoughts of the new year: changes, goals, new beginnings. No resolutions, though. Resolutions just don’t work for me.
The sun finally shows itself and spreads some light on January 1, like a light shining on the new day, the doorway to 2016.
Will 2016 be just as bright as this New Year’s Day?
See you on the highway.