Light of Interest

Jennie Shortridge made an interesting departure for her most recent novel, When She Flew: she based it on actual events, events that did not involve her. What she discovered, of course, is that the process of writing a novel that begins with only the smallest kernel of an idea or one drawn from a story with its own inherent arc is largely the same. This is because no matter what you are writing, you must make that story your own. It does not matter whether that story was invented or retold. Life is a translation. I was reading recently that in one day we are exposed to billions pieces of information—words, sounds, smells, sights—of which we remember or absorb approximately 2,000. The rest? Not of interest.

All the world is narrowed to what is of interest to you. The beam of light that is your attention shines across the landscape searching for the shapes and sounds and ideas that sparkle for you. One of the greatest pains I know is for that light to land on something bright and fascinating and for me to think, “But I can never have that.” And so I move the light away.

Now every time my light returns to that thing I want but believe I cannot have I feel a pain that seems almost like loss. Or we call it regret, or we make up reasons and use logic and site statistics and facts all of which are an elaborate dance around fear. You leave the light where it shines, and as you get closer you see it wasn’t such a complicated and impossible thing at all.

Everything far away can seem unreachable; it is a trick of vision.  But all that ever separates you from anything is time. Make a friend of time and the world gathers around you. The great lie of time is that there is too much of it or not enough of it—there is only ever one amount of time, and it is all here at this very instant. Time is in fact a boat that carries you, not the ocean to be crossed.

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