Sunday, April 22, 2012

Grail Quest

    My 2am internal wake-up call was as abrupt as hitting a light switch. From dead asleep, to brain on full speed, with the flip of an internal switch. I wish I could disconnect that switch. Curled up on my side, arms wrapped around a pillow that is my only bedmate (except for a plush cheetah named Turbo, but if word got out about him, my tough reputation would be toast), once again I ponder life. I think about life, the now, the future, all the paths facing me, decisions that may or may not present themselves, all the possibilities, all the realities. I think until my head is buzzing with options, choices, decisions, most of which are far in the future, or only in my imagination. As I have said before, the downside of a writer's imagination is the vivid reality of my thoughts, mental meanderings, fantasies, fears, and desires. I see them with a clarity that evades most people when they are remembering true events from their recent past. I think in images, more than words, and they roll through my brain with the speed and clarity of movie previews. Some, I see over and over, intentionally hitting the mental repeat button. Of my repeats, some are beautiful and sweet, some sensual and seem out of reach, some wishing for a future that may be unrealistic and beyond my reality. But they are my imaginings, and I can watch them as often as I like.
    Often my repeat showings are lessons learned, as if the movie theater of my mind wants to lash me with parables, using my own shortcomings as the prime examples. I become the central figure in my own tragic Grimm's Fairy Tales. I am the dancer in The Red Shoes, The Little Matchgirl, the voiceless Mermaid, the Tin Soldier with one leg who pines for the Paper Dancer. And as I watch my parables scroll past, feeling alone in the dark, I wonder what I can do to rewrite my script. I heard it said once, "He writes his own script, and yet complains about the plot," and found it an apt and poignant observation. I watch my parables and know there has to be a way to rewrite the endings. I don't mind being the Tin Soldier, but won't stand by to watch my paper dancer be blown into the fire, then cast myself into the coals to be melted into a heart-shaped mass. I will not be the tragic, long-suffering, silent, ineffectual character of a bleak tale propelled ahead by fate, without fighting back. But how to rewrite my script?
    Lying awake, the 2am world hushed and still, I hold my pillow to my chest, curl around it for comfort and attempt to edit the scenes playing out in my mind. My favorites, the beautiful, sweet and sensual, need no editing, only elaborations and refining. They are fuel to my desires. But the parables, the life lessons that my brain is trying to drum into me, as if I have no choice in the paths of my future, these must be rewritten. But how to write in my small cast of characters? How to rewrite their roles? I know that I cannot write the future for another, that is a true path to failure. But I want, need, must write my own script to lead me through the dark, demon haunted forests and perilous, rocky ravines to the happy ending I know can be mine. At times it feels less like a simple fairy tale, and more like a complex Grail Quest, replete with challenges, tests of courage and strength, raging rivers with well guarded bridges, impassable paths, darkest forests, and bottomless pits. I move ahead carefully, knowing a misstep will take the Grail farther from my reach, perhaps even destroy it before I can so much as touch it. I have seen my Grail, or at least one of them, for who is to say there won't be a series of such in the long life that stretches ahead. I have seen a Grail, felt it's perfection, and then had it moved beyond my touch. I know I am not ready yet, know there is growing and healing to be done before the time will be ripe. But I can still see it in my mind's eye, I know it is there, that it may still be mine, if I prove worthy.
    So it will be a matter of writing my script, mapping the course of my quest, patiently approaching the trials I know will present themselves to me. If there is one thing I have learned from the parables and quests of history is that the over-eager, impatient questers will fail every time, it is the patient who will survive. The questers looking for the fast, straight road will fail as quickly as they had hoped to succeed. But the quester that sees and accepts the long road, the winding path, the obstacles, will find the Grail, and understand its true worth. For if it is worth having, it is worth the trials, worth the Quest. I am writing my script, hopefully with the happy ending, but if not, there will be a treasure of growth and understanding to be had in the end.

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