Monday, January 13, 2014

Inspiration Monday: Into the Fray

I have a new bed. I love it with the kind of love I usually reserve for...well, not furniture. Going without a bed for over a week and getting sick in the middle will make a person appreciate a bed, sure, but this one is BIG and COMFY and it has a shelf in the headboard for my books and pens. It is built from sleek, dark wood with sharp edges not yet worn and dinged from our touchy hands and our pets' beggy paws.

This bed and I are going to be close friends for a long, long time.

The old one was old-fashioned and too small, but it had its charms. It was antique, built by an actual craftsman. There was a little nub of wood that had chipped off one of the rungs of the headboard along the way. Someone tacked it back on with a finish nail that would sometimes get caught on our pillowcases (and sometimes on my head). The footboard had posts, worn to the bare wood from years of my husband throwing his bathrobe and jacket over them. The wood rails were scratched from years of feet getting in and out of the bed, but my favorites were the little digs from Bella's paws after years of her standing on her hind legs and begging to curl up with us, her own little wolf pack. The old bed was nowhere near the pristine beauty of my new one, but it had a personality of its own and I will miss it. Well, except the mattress. I will never let go of this new mattress. Ever.

The things in our lives tell a lot of tales. We surround ourselves with possessions, and it is not only what a person has that speaks to who a person is, but how a thing is worn.

This is the edge of my desk, worn rough and jagged from years of me hunching over it to write, draw, and make things. Desks don't get like that from just sitting. It takes work to gnaw an edge like that, and it speaks to the time I've spent there. That edge marks it as mine.

The same goes for my beaten up desk chair. It is getting ragged around its edges and it sinks gradually the whole time I sit in it until I look up and notice I'm sitting at the desk like a three-year-old without a high chair. I grumble and raise it back up to start the ride over again. I need a new one, but for now, I can still see the good in this one. I've spent many hours in it, enough to wear it out, and those were good hours. Sure, a lot of them were spent watching Netflix on my computer when I was supposed to be doing something more productive, but a lot of them were spent working, either creating or earning my keep. I earned those frayed edges.

Maybe I'm overly sentimental. I guess there's no maybe to that--it is pretty clearly true, but that isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes it can pay off. Not only can I look at the echoes on my objects and catch a whiff of the creative buzz that occasionally hovers there, but it inspires me to think about how I can flesh out my characters. If they were real people (and I am banking on someone someday believing they could be), they would not always sleep in sleek, sharp-edged beds with perfect mattresses. They would not hover weightless over their flawless desk chairs. If you are going to read about my characters and believe they are real, they are going to have to leave fingerprints. There must be cracks and smudges and carpet that is tracked flat and just out of style. If I want you to believe they are real, I have to fray up the edges a little.

Take a look around your place and I'm sure you'll find a few mementos of your presence. Run your fingers across those edges and think about the life and living it took to wear them away. Sure, worn out furniture can be an eyesore and make you twitch a little when you have guests, but for now, just for now, look at it and think of it as your own little Grand Canyon. Those marks wouldn't be there without the force of your nature.

It is an irrevocable fact of life: we touch things and they can't help but change.

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