The Great Leap Forward

It’s been scorching in Maine the last 2 days, air like a rattled tiger, sun like a gangster with too much hubris.

I can’t write in the heat. So my family and I drove to Lake St. George and swam, lounged, and grilled spicy veggie burgers. I suppose I could have sat in my closet (this is where I write) in nothing but a loincloth, but that’s too devout for me. “Life is a process to be experienced, not an object to be coveted.”

Today’s overcast, with that maggoty white sky and a haze like a weeping gauze, and I’m back to the writing. Sort of. It’s more like mowing the grass without the bag on and letting the clippings fly.

And fuck if I’m not in a funk. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s my mood, maybe it’s the size of Roget’s International Thesaurus that seems to hold more words than I can ever hope to.

As a child in Wales, I used to have this recurring dream. My grandparents lived in a council house on this long stretchy street, all of the houses joined at the hip, and neat, or sometimes overgrown, narrow gardens of equal size out the back that were separated by a wall. Most days there was laundry flying high and dogs barking. Well, in my dream, I would always climb onto the roof of my grandparents’ house and like a Puck, who didn’t know he was a Puck, I’d jump from roof to roof, sometimes disturbing the roosting chimney sweeps (remember, this was a dream) and have to sneak past the crows dressed in busbies and carrying muskrats and occasionally interrupting Mr. Parry and Mrs. Jones joined at the lips and ascending into the heavens, Mr. Parry’s suspenders attached to the rising moon.

And where was I going? Anywhere, nowhere, I didn’t care. I just wanted to live out a life, even a make-believe one, above the mundane. Even in my dreams, somebody would wake, open a window, pop their head out, and shout, “Keep off the Roof! You’ll ruin the flowers of youth with all your mad running about.”

It never stopped me. I’d race on and on, the end of the street nowhere in sight, the candle in my hand with the nervy flame whispering words as the empty smoke from all the houses drifted off across the sea.

I never got to the end of my street in my dreams. But that was never the point.

I don’t dream of running across roofs now. Maybe because where I live there are no connecting houses, just the uneasy masts of trees and the moon that’s too small for a sail. I sometimes dream of lifting the house I live in up on my shoulders and striding like Bendigeidfran (Bran the Blessed) across Penobscot Bay and out to sea, dolphins jumping at my side and my two girls waving to them and my wife at an open window, the wind playing in her hair.

If I ever really spent some time thinking about these dreams. I might come up with something about myself. But I think I already know what it is.

Maybe that’s why I always won’t settle for what comes easy. Maybe that’s why I have scribbled on the soles of so many of my shoes my own simple magic that wants to live a livid life, a life that is a great leap forward into something extraordinary. A life like a row of roofs on a long stretchy street with no end in sight where I can always run.

Here’s some classic Bragg.


One thought on “The Great Leap Forward

  1. Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Spending some time and actual effort to produce a superb article… but what can I say…
    I put things off a whole lot and never seem to get nearly anything done.

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