Friday, October 10, 2014
I'd been in a seaside town, and there was a fair on. I walked down streets crowded with hot dog stands, stands selling artsy things, and here and there a booth where a man dressed as Hemingway would teach you how to write like Hemingway, or a woman dressed like Jane Austin would teach you how to write like her.
I was keenly interested in these booths, and stopped at every one. The chance to sit down and learn at the feet of a master! But I didn't really want to write like Hemingway. He was a fine writer, but his style was perhaps too spare for what I wanted to accomplish.
Whatever that was. I didn't know - though it seemed I should know - but Austin didn't suit me either.
There was even a booth for Stephen Benet. I didn't know there was a writer by that name, but as I write this, I look it up on Google, and there he is, an author who wrote The Political and Military History of the Campaign of Waterloo - back in 1864.
Well then. That would explain his outfit.
I turned and went another way, looking for more booths, some writing style to better suit what I wanted, maybe help me figure out exactly what that was. I needed to make a plan. I needed to sort things out, get things done.
But the booths ran out, and the festival crowd faded behind me. I didn't mind, because I found myself under a dazzling sunset, walking barefoot on warm, packed sand with waves brushing the shore to my left.
The sky darkened as I walked. I thought how the sand felt like a soft mat under my steps, and at last I lay down on that map to look up at the night sky.
And overhead, I saw manatees, swimming in the sky, bumping against each other with gentle familiarity, occasionally turning a kind face my way.
It was the opposite of a nightmare. It lingered as a tender comfort all day long.
And I don't know what it meant. Just like so many things I do not know about my life. Why some other plan than my own is what works out in the end. Why my life has taken unexpected turns I never wrote in any five or ten-year plan.
But all the while there are manatees in my sky.
John of the Cross said, "The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. The soul has to proceed by unknowing rather than knowing."
It probably doesn't have to, but it seems it might as well. My own plans always seem to