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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Why I write, about nature

For a quadruple emotional and spiritual whammy, I guess.

At the end of a sunny day, the house and the woods behind it put the pointed firs on the shore mostly into shadow. For a few minutes, only the tips are ablaze with light, and every once in a while a goldfinch will sit there and preen and bask and sing in the sun.

So, first: the incredible opportunity just to watch and listen.

Second: when the goldfinch flies away, the chance to think about what I've just experienced, what it means, if anything, the tininess of bird (and man) against the immensity of sky and water, the cheerfulness and playfulness and sociability of these little marvels, the blessings of free time in this place, words and phrases already replacing the pictures and rolling around in head and heart..

Third: eventually getting those words to stick, to connect to each other and to the ideas of history and culture, and to inspire emotions all over again, for me and for others.

Last: this is the best way I know to approximate the comfort, the security, and the ecstasy of the religious experience, and - what amounts to the same thing - to overcome by a kind of perpetual resurrection the incessant concern with self and the mean stabs of despond and despair. Love does this also, and often art and music, but I find it difficult to write about them, as if Mozart's molecules and my family's hugs were somehow other-worldly. I can't even try. I'll have to get to heaven on the verbs of the goldfinch.

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