Life was a lot like that freshman lit classes, if you were lucky enough to have a good teacher. The one who made a student answer the character questions. Like Captain Ahab, in the Moby Dick novel. How did he affect you? Did he frighten you? Did you love him? What was he after? Did he change much during the time that you knew him? What most impressed you about him?
I just got back from Ireland 3 weeks ago today. It was my third trip. On that first trip, I had a gun pointed at my head by a British soldier and was not exactly sure why. I already had a history degree, but had to spend a few more years reading to find out why. On the second trip I had visited the the homestead of, the land of, a cluster of homesteads, of my ancestors. Baile, in Irish. The place that dated back to the thirteenth century. In the January 2010 trip, I traveled to Inishmore in the Aran Islands and looked out across the Atlantic, at a site where a fortress had been built 3,000 years ago. Inishmore was a place about hardship, in a land with little soil, and when Aran woman made heavy sweaters for fisherman-husbands to drown faster amidst the high seas because they did not know how to swim.
On the way to Inishmore, I got seasick, but tried to keep the contents of my stomach intact. I just closed my eyes, hoping that the 20 foot waves would disappear. And the contents of my stomach would not be visible to the world. Not really knowing, my cousin told me that I should have kept my eyes open, even though it was something within the ear involving equilibrium that was at risk. (And the sun had set and the horizon was not visible.)
Trying to figure out, with my eyes open, the truth. Like where you were and where you were going. Trying to capture a few things, in music or story -- like what it meant to be Irish when you wake up in the morning, when you found your landlegs. Trying to figure out the sounds of the past, of the future, what the music all meant. The old songs. The traditional ones. The new ones.
I have been in 24 countries to date, and hope to add to the number. Before I die I want to finish a novel I started 5 years ago and put away. The Masterpiece.
Masterpieces. Reproductions. The variations on a theme. In a sense I think of that Victor Frankl comment about walking into a concentration camp with his masterpiece that had to be saved. At all cost.
So you write for the future. To leave the wisdom. In masterpieces, reproductions, replications. As the past conflicted with the future, as consciousness changes, beyond myself. And so a relationship, as ultimately the masterpiece was all along what you had put into your relationship while trying to hang onto your equilibrium, somewhere inside the ear.