Two very short stories…
I saw Buckminster Fuller speak in 1972 and was thoroughly impressed with his approach to design thinking. Here was a man who had designed, among many other things, the geodesic dome, telling us about the inspiration he got from working on submarines. To several thousand hippies, Bucky referencing war machines was a real surprise. Every element was created to do multiple duties, to be small but exact and intuitive to humans. Sailboats are like this too. And haiku. This was around the time of “small is beautiful” and Paul Hawken and Stewart Brand promoting “voluntary simplicity”, themes that have stuck with me 45 years. Writing teachers encourage us to take away everything until nothing more can be removed. Our aspiration is to be left with just this tiny bit of emotional dynamite. I’m still trying.
31 January, 2014
Tom was so proud of his new camera, a high-end Nikon. It cost him a month’s salary but now he knew he could really make creative progress, really have a chance to sell his pictures, maybe even quit his job at the hardware store.
Dorothy had an amethyst her great grandmother had given her. Peoples’ faces, memories of old houses, forgotten feelings and music appeared when she held the stone and looked carefully at it’s cut and color. She asked Tom to make an image of this special heirloom that captured how she felt, what she saw behind her eyes.
Tom shifted back and forth nervously and fiddled with his camera. He knew all the technical calibrations and electronic features of his new machine, a tool he was sure would make him an artist. But he was uncertain.
“Honey, I just don’t think the Nikon can do that. But hold still a second and let me try something.”
31 January, 2014
No matter what, I will always show up, every year, on this date, at this coffee shop.
I saw her here, thirty years ago, lovely, dark-haired and petite. We spoke, just for a moment.
“Is anyone sitting here?”
“No, please, let me move my paper.”
That was all.
Now, I come every fall. The river across from the café is usually just a trickle. Leaves have turned brown and have fallen into the slow-moving water. I sit an hour on the hard, black wrought-iron bench, alone in the chill. It’s afternoon. The setting sun is low and painfully bright. Few others are around. It’s quiet save for the sound of traffic.
I glance up from time to time. I watch strangers pass. I don’t expect much. Nothing at all, really. I have a tiny, kernel of warmth inside that binds me to her.
No matter what, I will always come here, in this season, at this time of day. I look forward to it all year.
Without it, it is only autumn.