Mystery -- this was my choice of topic this week, and it's something I could go on and on about: a reader's frustration with real life, with the notion that while in fiction "all will be revealed in time," in life it's not so. There are many things we will never ever know. So, the prompt is, of all mysteries large and small, what mystery would you have unveiled for you if you could?
I've thought about it and I think honestly, if I could know any great cosmic mystery at all, it wouldn't be: is God real? It would be: Are there sentient beings on other planets, and what are they like? And have they indeed visited us on Earth, are they technologically superior to us, how many different species in how many different worlds? I had a dream a long time ago that I woke up from and started immediately to plot as a story (which I never wrote). In it, two travel-writers and their adolescent children are part of the first civilian flight to the first planet discovered with sentient life. The characters in my dream were no doubt based on my old bosses, Tony & Maureen Wheeler, the founders of Lonely Planet Travel Guides. These two started the company in the 60s by driving an old van across Central Asia, about which no travel guide yet existed. They then holed up in Australia for a time and wrote up their notes, typed and stapled them and started selling them to local bookstores. Decades later they own a company that has opened the most mysterious places in the world up to adventurers, and their children have been along for the ride. This is a complete tangent, but it seems appropriate enough. I still sort of love that idea, of being the first travel writer to an alien civilization that will soon be finding itself inundated with rich earthling adventure tourists. In the dream it turned dark and came to light that not all the sentient species on the planet were friendly.
I'm not an abduction conspiracy theorist. I'd just love to know. What's going on out there in all that vasty blackness? I'd also like to know -- in the earthly realm -- how sophisticated is whale speech really? Do they have syntax and vocabulary? Do they tell each other stories? How does their intelligence stack up to ours? I really really wish there was a way to know that!
ON ANOTHER NOTE, Jim and I just celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary!
Yay, us! It's been a wonderful though lightning-quick 5 years since that day in the forested hills above Berkeley, California, when we stood facing each other on a lawn, all teary and overwhelmed with love. We got married at the Brazil Pavillion that was salvaged from the San Francisco World's Fair, a lovely lovely spot, and everything about the day was perfect. We didn't take a honeymoon really but just drove back up the coast to Oregon, stopping along the way at the Russian River, Mendocino, and the Redwoods. To celebrate our anniversary we went out to the Oregon coast thursday, to Manzanita, a wonderful small beach town less than two hours from Portland. It's rustic and free of beachy motels and wax museums and boardwalks. There's a wine bar and a few shops and NO souvenirs anywhere! We stayed in a skinny two-story tower-cabin, walked on the beach, ate taffy, and drove to the nearby river towns of Wheeler and Nehalem for some antique shopping. On the way home we made the short hike through the woods to Oswald West beach, one of the loveliest beaches I have ever seen.
"There is a pleasure in the pathless wood/ There is a rapture on the lonely shore/ There is society where none intrude/ By the deep sea and music in its roar/ I love not man the less, but nature more." - Lord Byron.
Now, after two beautiful trips to the coast in the past month, I'm daydreaming about having a cabin there. Dream, dream!