Straddling the cusp of enlightenment
I’m in the process of writing a fantasy adventure novel and where I love the high adventure of it and the idea of being out away from the bustle of the city it’s a paradox because while I stare out my window at the hills in Millbrae leading out to Pacifica and the pacific ocean, I’m inside my apartment and looking up over buildings and cars. The progress and process our lives have taken.
Often when I’m writing a specific type of story I like to get other materials which help me in my creative process, other writings or movies to get the creative juices flowing. For example in writing “The Book of Antiquity” I have read both Joseph Campbell and Books like K.J. Parker’s “Engineer Trilogy” (This is a fantastic trilogy by the way, you should read it). Most recently I have gone out and purchased “The Lord of the Rings” on Blu-ray. I thought the depth and breath of the movies was going to bring me into the perfect frame of mind to finish the novel. Give me inspiration for the final battle in my novel.
I watched all three and a half hours of the extendo version of “Fellowship” and was again amazed at the job they pulled off in creating this movie, and I felt inspired to write, so I sat down in front of my computer and poised my hands above the key board…then I saw my hand made pipe and the small bag of tobacco sitting next to it and thought about all the pipe smoking in the movie and how relaxed they all seemed and I picked up my pipe, packed the Burlingame Tabacconists custom blend “Black & Gold” Tobacco into it, lit it and averted my gaze from the computer screen back to the hills leading to the Pacific and made sure to take my time and enjoy the smoke, instead of powering through it, just to finish, as I’m prone to do.
Then I was hit with a beautiful and possibly horrible epiphany. I anchored the pipe in my teeth and moved it to the right side of my mouth so I could see my computer screen unobstructed and I wrote a line:
How do we recompense the love of nature versus the march of technology after we have already made the decision to join step?
I also watched the special features of “Fellowship” and Peter Jackson said in one of them that J.R.R. Tolkien loathed technology and loved the simplicity of nature. This showed through in scenes where Saruman had his Goblins tear down the ancient trees to build a factory for evil.
I looked back up at the tree covered hillside beyond the buildings and cars and streetlamps. I pulled the pipe from my mouth, realizing that I was puffing away and getting no pleasure from the smoking, I was again smoking for the satisfaction of completion and not for satisfaction of the act. I put the pipe down. I stared at my computer where I had my entire novel open in Microsoft Word and the internet open with stereomood.com playing music while I wrote, my phone was in the background telling me that I had a text message.
The march of technology and the distraction of consumerism had absorbed me. I was having trouble focusing enough to finish my novel and I was using distractions such as other novels and other movies, possibly even music to try and help me focus on my writing. Then, because life harmonizes, I distinctly heard a lyric of a song playing through my computer: “Ouch, I have lost myself again.”
Why did I think these distractions would help me concentrate when I’ve always known that the best way to concentrate is to clear one’s mind of distractions? I picked my pipe back up and stared at it. I spent $100 dollars on the pipe, because it reminded me of a simpler time and I thought it would bring me relaxation. I looked at the Blu-ray (Which I purchased in Blu-ray because I knew it would be much more lush and beautiful than the regular DVD) and shook my head, ashamed.
I was ashamed not because I had purchased these things, but because I had lost my sense of myself. I had lost all moderation. I had leaned too far to the consumer/technology obsession and started to lose my personal/naturalist sensibility. Even the idea that I was finishing my novel instead of just writing it was indicative of how far my mentality had shifted. I need solitude and nature to feel peace and to clear my head of the everyday clutter, but I need the trappings of a hand made pipe, of a blu-ray player, of a computer to collect my thoughts and to soothe me with music. To be even more stark, I need nature and solitude to create something which takes technology to produce and that I hoped people would purchase for their own edification.
I’d become a juxtaposed mirror image of myself. And that’s what led me to understand that the beauty of life comes from that delicate balance. The hardest part is to keep that balance and be wary of tilting too far in either direction. It’s human nature to try and make things easier for ourselves, but we need to be wary of over simplification and “losing ourselves” of becoming too lazy and letting technology direct our lives, or leaning too far in the other direction and stagnating our development as a race.
So how do we recompense? We need to create and innovate using nature as a muse. There is such natural complexity to nature, which is what gives the world its beauty, if we lose that innovation will stop and Science Fiction will prove true. Our creations will rule our lives. Our danger is that we cannot stop looking at the wonder of nature since we have now followed technology’s march too far to ever truly fall in the opposite direction.