May 16, 2016 – Reality

Oshawa shore of Lake Ontario

Joel’s Journal – May 16, 2016

The wind howled outside, tearing through the empty tree branches, billowing them in all directions like long hair caught in a harsh breeze. The snow squalls that come and go fill the trio of windows in the kitchen with scenes of winter, coating the green grass and budding bushes. At times, the sun breaks through the dense grey clouds, spilling a bright square of warmth across me, my cup of coffee and the book in my hand.

I notice all of it, but I don’t. Just like the coffee in my hand, I sip it, but I don’t really taste the black bitterness.

This was yesterday morning (I know, snow in May, right?), I was on the home stretch of finishing my most recent reading escapade, and I was really far gone.

It’s one of the things that attracted me to writing in the first place, the way simple words on a page can take your mind to a completely different world.

I remember as a kid reading the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, or the first few Harry Potter books in middle school and being completely enthralled in a way that no TV show or movie was able to do. Things have changed a little though.

Now that I’m getting older I find it’s harder for me to escape to that place. Perhaps there’s too many things grounding me here in reality to make that transition so easily, or perhaps it’s because as kids our imaginations are wide open and accepting of everything, not stunted and cynical like the squinting eyes of an old man.

Yesterday morning was my first real dip into the imaginary pool since last summer. I was reading Haruki Murakami’s Norweigein Wood at that time, and if you haven’t had the pleasure of reading it, I highly recommend. I was on a camping trip and I still remember closing the last page, looking up at the trees around me, and taking a full minute to just let the ending sink in as my mind waded back from that imaginary pond.

So, it’s been a while for me, and there’s the moment when you blink and realize that nearly an hour has gone by without you really noticing. I’m always happy after this happens, because it reminds me that my brain is still able to actually escape this way.

My work in journalism not only has me constantly thinking, analyzing and questioning, but it constantly makes you focus on what is happening in the real world. In stark contrast, my work in fiction has me doing the exact opposite.

During long periods when I’m really busy with work and don’t have much time for my side projects, I find it’s harder and harder to flip that switch and disappear for a while. At times, I’ll go through two or three books and it just never happens, making me scared that perhaps that switch had shorted out for good.

However, that’s never the case, and each time I look up from the page, blinking and surprised to find the sun has disappeared and it’s snowing again, I smile.

It may only be an imaginary pool, but it sure is refreshing.

Thanks for reading,

J.J.W.