Thursday, 26 February 2009

The Horizon. Now with 360° views!

I am excited. My dear friend and former newspaper colleague, Sage Birchwater, is retiring from news. While I sense the trepidation in his announcement, all I can see is the deck of the mother ship opening for what promises to be a mammoth opportunity for all the writing projects he has been putting off for when he “had the time.”

Sage is a creature of the Chilcotin. It is onto those grasslands and within those stretches of forest that the gate of his creative mind will land. I love Sage’s writing. I love his intuition and his ability to (softly, subtly) demonstrate the connections between people and places. This is why most of my glee is entirely selfish, because as a reader I stand to directly benefit from all this freed-up time.

Sage is a respected reporter who has won several awards from the B.C. & Yukon Community Newspaper Association. People trust him because he is so committed to his community. This enthusiasm has always helped him to write stories that wake people up, make them care about local and provincial issues.

But after years of freelance and almost a decade behind a desk, now there is no more having to think of how a story might run alongside an editorial or how it might merge with the current socio-economic tilt of the lumber industry. Now there are just beautiful, wild Chilcotin tales, waiting to be told.

As such I have been thinking about Sage and about new starts. Those sudden, wide open spaces that instil so much awe and angst in equal measure. And I am listening to the joyful sound of Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate. The song is Monsieur Le Maire de Niafunke. It is child-like, innocent. Perfect for spring, for all of our new starts. I wrote the following - my wee show of support for those heading into a time of change.

You can still climb the trees with your grown up hands, reach into the thick branches and haul yourself onto a perch to watch the world. And you can still find yourself stuck far from the ground, swirling in the half enjoyment of your burgeoning fear. It is a great relief to feel so threatened, to have life mock you so relentlessly the way it did when you were small and your bike was lost for an entire afternoon.

Think of it like this. You are standing at the roadside next to a wide river and across that river a glacier descends the mountain like a frozen, unfurled tongue. The solstice sun blazes gooey warmth down upon your back, while the chill of the ice creates a cold wind, shavings of winter, blasting your cheeks until they are red.

Life is like that - patting you on the back while simultaneously smacking you in the face. Getting you drunk then applying the kind of hangover cure that involves having your head plunged repeatedly into a bucket of water. Shocking and at times ghastly, but what a ride.

But imagine how much more fantastic, how vivid as a passionflower high it could be, if you could locate and tug free the loose thread that is the cause of that immortal pest: hesitation. Not the kind of hesitation that tells you not to try to outstare the grizzly. But the kind of uncertainty that looks back at you in the mirror, or up from the page.

professor of German Literature once said to his class of longing followers: “fake it until you’ve got it.” He also said that Mein Kampf referred to Hitler’s losing struggle to construct a decent German sentence, but that is beside the point. What he meant was that if you wake up in the morning and your way forward seems blocked, pretend it is not. Dance in your chains until you realize they are not, have never been, real.

Now slap those fingers on the keyboard and tell me a story.

(Yes. You. You know who you are).


C.S. Perry said...

Always inspirational. I wish I was there with you sometimes.

I also wish I could win a few awards.

Small Boat Sails into Big Mystery said...

A person with a name like Sage Birchwater and a really really cool photo of a mountain. Your blog is always worth a visit. I will look into your suggestion on Small Boat Sails, i think other readers have fallen behind as well, and surely there is a way to make the chapters accessible individually. My wife will know, she's the computer whiz.