I live in Seattle, where apparently there is not going to be a spring this year. Between winter and summer we are being treated to a damp, spongy period I will call Spronge. Spronge is fantastic for lawns but not so good for picnics. Very good for writing, however. Not much to tempt you from your desk, and all that rain and all those sodden trees can put you in contact with a very productive gloom.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one to romanticize despair. But warm rain has a very particular effect on me, and perhaps gloom is not precisely the right word. Persistent rain, for which Seattle is so rightly famous, reminds me of all that over which I have no power. Thus the gloom, I think. Which is to say, I must harbor some illusions that I am a kind of god, and if I were just skilled enough the world might bend to my will. Yet rain – particularly warm rain, which is so much kinder than winter’s edge-of-snow rain – puts me back in touch with humanty’s reliable limitations.
Exactly where I need to be to write. Hard to hold much wonder for a world you think you can control. Hard also to create characters without their own free will. Yet the more I relinquish this grasp on things I could never hold, the greater command I feel. Our balance is always best maintained when our hands are free, despite the tempting luxury of the handrail – you’ll only cling to it and remain where you are.
There is no freedom in stasis, and what misery to believe you are in charge of the world, how exhausting and impossible. The artist in all of us stands within the world, puny by physical scale, powerless to the smallest mosquito whose death we could engineer but over whose life we haven’t one ounce of authority – yet unburdened by the need to stop the rain, our energy is freed to reveal the limitless designs of imagination. We are large indeed. There are no walls to hem us but our own desire.