Where We Live
It is an interesting trick we play with ourselves when we debate the existence or non-existence of life after death. The problem, of course, is death’s opaque and impenetrable door. Despite rumors trickling back from those who claimed to have peered through that door and then returned, we here on earth can see with our eyes only the body that is no longer moving and talking and keeping us company. It is easy to assume that the nothing the living feel from a corpse is the same nothing awaiting us when our time comes. So goes earthly logic: we see nothing, therefore there is nothing. And yet there is another impenetrable door behind which the living dwell every moment of every day. It’s called the imagination. My imagination is as impenetrable to your eyes as death is to all our eyes. And yet my imagination is quite real. In fact, except for my body’s upkeep, all life passes through it. Every story, every word, every gesture, every meal, every kiss emerges from my imagination. Everything I have ever shared with the world, everything we can all see with our eyes and therefore call real, began in this sovereign, sacred, impenetrable domain.
If I am honest, I will admit that I spend most of my time in this place that does not exist in the earthly sense of the word. I have no choice, really. There is nowhere else to go to learn what I desire. All that my eyes can see, all that my lips can taste or my hands touch, no matter how beautiful or delicious or interesting, are but suggestions with which my imagination must agree. To look with my eyes for meaning or purpose or pleasure is to become lost.
Writers, of all people, should know this – we who sit alone at our desk with nothing, nothing, nothing but our imaginations and a little bit of craft to earn our living. Yet we are practical people, preferring usually to see ourselves as building a story as a carpenter builds a chair. Fool yourself if you must. Your published story exists not on the page but in your reader’s imagination, and that nothing we call a book serves only as a conduit from one reality to another.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.