On Imagination – Another’s Thoughts

“To see, to hear, means nothing. To recognize (or not to recognize) means everything.” – André Breton

This week’s creativity blog shares another’s perspective. I’m on her email list and this particular email dissertation I found quite interesting. She goes by the name “The Used Life” and is an artist extraordinaire.

Here are some of her thoughts . . . what are some of yours?

I think of my art as an articulation of my inner life. That all of the scenes that take shape in my collage art (and poetry, too) also exist within me. There is a mystery in that which I love: that is, the mystery of human imagination. Indeed, it is a rare occasion when I am able to explain clearly and succinctly what I believe my artwork means. I like not knowing. No, I love not knowing. It is the mystery that makes it meaningful.

It is also, I think, the element of mystery that creates something akin to a mystical or religious experience—the feeling that, when I am creating, I am acting as a conduit, or channel, for “something else”, something almost otherworldly or unreal.

But, what’s the “something else”? What do I think is really happening in those moments, and what is the role of imagination in that process?

First, let me clarify by saying that I don’t define “imagination” as the ability to conjure images at will. That, I think, is a very small part of what comprises our imaginations. Here are some thoughts.

Imagination is a loss of separateness.

It is the recognition of ourselves in another—in another person, in an animal or landscape, in a character from a novel, a scrap of discarded paper, or a cardboard box. I would suggest that this “moment of recognition” is where the feelings of awe, of ecstasy, or even love that often accompany or precede creativity come from.

“Imagination is the outreaching of mind…the bombardment of the conscious mind with ideas, impulses, images and every sort of psychic phenomena welling up from the pre-conscious.” – Rollo May

What psychoanalysts might call a kind of projection, or a “leaky” subconscious. Imagination is the outpouring of inner images onto the outer world, such that a third image—a new image—may be born.

Imagination is a way of perceiving.

Maslow talks a great deal about what it means to see “unitively”, suggesting that many self-actualizing people encounter the world in a manner that allows them to see the sacred in the everyday. In the essay, “Theory Z”, he suggests self-actualizers may be divided broadly into two groups: those who experience episodes of self-transcendence (i.e., artists, poets, musicians, other creators), and those who are more pragmatic thinkers (i.e., businesspeople, entrepreneurs, politicians, scientists).

The difference between them: pragmatic thinkers deal with the here-and-now, operate within the confines of concrete reality. Transcenders are able to perceive the stuff of everyday life within the context of eternity and, as a result, are able to perceive (or feel they are perceiving) the “sacred” or “miraculous”.

What I think: the latter see imaginatively. What Maslow refers to as the perception of eternity is a function of imagination. It is the natural “outreaching of mind”, the involvement of the subconscious, or preconscious, primordial images and the emotions they carry. That’s where those feelings of “eternity,” “otherworldliness,” “surreality,” or even of encountering “the sacred” in the everyday (or in a work of art) come from.

What’s more: children see imaginatively. We were all, at one time, able to see imaginatively without trying…which leads me to my last point.

Our imaginations transform the everyday into the extraordinary.

Without the imaginative encounter—that is, without the fusion of inner and outer worlds—I doubt we would ever be able to perceive the extraordinary. I think we need those subconscious projections, those “leaky” images, impulses, and ideas. They tell us who we are. They help us make meaning. That outpouring of the unreal is what gives reality its shine.

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

Where Does Creativity Come From and How to Increase Your Own

I recently ran across a newsletter article on creativity and wanted to share some interesting aspects of it with you. Though the main source seems to be the Monitor of Psychology and its author, Kirsten Weir (see footnote below), there are numerous additional sources cited to supplement the creativity aspect.

Creativity means different things to different people. Seemingly, creativity is mostly aligned with marketing, design and the arts. But, what about science and engineering? Literature? Man’s simple ability to think? Let’s explore this to get a better feel for where creativity comes from and how best to enhance our own experience.

Creativity in the brain

What, exactly, is creativity? The standard definition used by researchers characterizes creative ideas as those that are original and effective, as described by psychologist Mark A. Runco, PhD, director of creativity research and programming at Southern Oregon University (Creativity Research Journal, Vol. 24, No. 1, 2012). But effectiveness, also called utility, is a slippery concept. Is a poem useful? What makes a sculpture effective?

Runco is working on an updated definition and has considered at least a dozen suggestions from colleagues. One frequently suggested feature is authenticity. “Creativity involves an honest expression,” he said.

Meanwhile, scientists are also struggling with the best way to measure the concept. As a marker of creativity, researchers often measure divergent thinking—the ability to generate a lot of possible solutions to a problem or question. But measures of divergent thinking haven’t been found to correlate well with real-world creativity.

Does coming up with new uses for a brick imply a person will be good at abstract art or composing music or devising new methods for studying the brain?

Maybe we move away from defining creativity based on a person’s creative output and focus instead on what’s going on in the brain, ponders Adam Green, PhD, a cognitive neuroscientist at Georgetown University and founder of the Society for the Neuroscience of Creativity. “The standard definition, that creativity is novel and useful, is a description of a product,” he noted. “By looking inward, we can see the process in action and start to identify the characteristics of creative thought. Neuroimaging is helping to shift the focus from creative product to creative process.”

Creativity often involves coordination between the cognitive control network (of the brain), which is involved in executive functions such as planning and problem-solving, and the default mode network, which is most active during mind-wandering or daydreaming. The cooperation of those networks may be a unique feature of creativity, Green said.

Green’s work suggests that targeting specific areas in the brain could enhance creativity. Yet no one is suggesting that a single brain region, or even a single neural network, is responsible for creative thought.

In search of the eureka moment

Creativity looks different from person to person. And even within one brain, there are different routes to a creative spark, explained John Kounios, PhD, an experimental psychologist who studies creativity and insight at Drexel University in Philadelphia. One involves what cognitive scientists call “System 1” (also called “Type 1”) processes: quick, unconscious thoughts—aha moments—that burst into consciousness. A second route involves “System 2” processes: thinking that is slow, deliberate, and conscious. “Creativity can use one or the other or a combination of the two,” he said. “You might use Type 1 thinking to generate ideas and Type 2 to critique and refine them.”

Which pathway a person uses might depend, in part, on their expertise. “It seems there are at least two pathways to get from where you are to a creative idea,” he said.

Coming up with an idea is only one part of the creative process. A painter needs to translate their vision to canvas. An inventor has to tinker with their concept to make a prototype that actually works. Still, the aha moment is an undeniably important component of the creative process. And science is beginning to illuminate those “lightbulb moments.”

The rush you get from an aha moment might also signal that you’re onto something good, said Jonathan Schooler, PhD, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “Creativity is at the core of innovation. We rely on innovation for advancing humanity, as well as for pleasure and entertainment,” he said. “Creativity underlies so much of what humans value.”

He and his colleagues studied these flashes of insight among creative writers and physicists. They surveyed the participants daily for two weeks, asking them to note their creative ideas and when they occurred. Participants reported that about a fifth of the most important ideas of the day happened when they were mind-wandering and not working on a task at hand. “These solutions were more likely to be associated with an aha moment and often overcoming an impasse of some sort,” Schooler said.

Six months later, the participants revisited those ideas and rated them for creative importance. This time, they rated their previous ideas as creative, but less important than they’d initially thought. That suggests that the spark of a eureka moment may not be a reliable clue that an idea has legs. “It seems like the aha experience may be a visceral marker of an important idea. But the aha experience can also inflate the meaningfulness of an idea that doesn’t have merit,” Schooler said. “We have to be careful of false ahas.”

Continue reading

Beyond The Majestic: The Evil Doer

A sequel to the short story Stopover at the Majestic

PROLOGUE

When last we visited, the year was 1965 and our two strangers were chatting up one another in the lobby of the Majestic Hotel, just before it was to be torn down. One of the strangers is Timeline Police. The cop knows our Time Traveler is not from 1965 but the closely guarded Timeline has been disrupted; how is not known. The police are investigating. Could our time-traveling Stranger end up being trapped in 1965 at the Majestic? After their conversation, our Time Traveler, Mr. Curtis, decides it is time to move on. So with a doff of this hat and a swirl of his cane, he does and in a flash, he’s gone. Again. Only to encounter unexpected twists along his journey through time.

 

 

The year is 3068 and Mr. Curtis is now visiting another world in the Gamma Quadrant of the Solexa Solar System. The planet, similar to Earth, is not all that old. However, the surface is desolate except for one large city. Mr. Curtis, it seems, has been drawn here to see the city’s largest building. He is, among other things, a curiosity seeker.

The building is a relatively old hotel, rather grandeur in stature. Upon first glance, he thought he recognized it but he’s never been here before. Then it hits him: It’s a replica, an exact replica but a working replica nonetheless of the long-ago demolished Majestic Hotel in Lake Charles, LA, back on Earth in 1965.

How could that be? Who built it and why the Majestic?

As he stands there in front of the lobby admiring its architecture, he feels a tap on his shoulder and a voice, “Hey there. Fancy meeting you here.”

Startled, Mr. Curtis swings around to see who is disturbing him.

It’s the Timeline Police cop from Earth!

“I could say the same thing about you,” retorts Mr. Curtis. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m investigating the breakdown of the Timeline back in 1965, when you and I first and last met,” says the cop. “You seemed to have left the Majestic awfully quickly. And now I see you here in front of another Majestic Hotel more than 200 years in the future. Curious! What gives?”

“Well, it is curious. I felt a strange yearning to come to this planet and when I arrived, I was drawn to this spot, where the hotel is. Believe it or not, I did not expect to see another Majestic Hotel,” explained Mr. Curtis.

“You said you were investigating the breakdown of the Timeline back in 1965,” inquired Mr. Curtis. “Have you any answers?” he asked. “I know I did nothing to impact the Timeline. That’s not to say I wasn’t tempted, mind you.”

“Well,” intoned the cop, “something happened to the Timeline because the Majestic Hotel back then was not torn down in 1965. Oh, sure, a parking lot is in its place or was but that was later.”

Mr. Curtis interrupted, “But, all the history books say the hotel was torn down in 1965 and show photos of its demolition. How could that be if it was not torn down then?”

“Trust me,” said the cop. It wasn’t. And the only way for that to have happened was for someone to adjust the Timeline. I don’t know who and I don’t know how but it was done. The evidence is where we are standing. This is not merely a replica of the Majestic, Mr. Curtis. It is the Majestic. Somehow when the Timeline was altered, the hotel was transported to 3068, right where we are standing.”

“Okay,” sighed Mr. Curtis, “now I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone. Before we know it, Rod Serling is going to come out from behind the Concierge Desk!”

“So where does this leave you in you investigation, Mr. Timeline Policeman?,” asked Mr. Curtis. “Since this happened back in 1965, wouldn’t it make sense to return to that time and ask around?” he said.

“I’ve considered exactly that, but I may need some help to draw out our Timeline provocateur,” said the cop.

“What did you have in mind?,” inquired Mr. Curtis.

“Come join me for a cocktail at the Majestic Bar and I’ll fill you in with my plan,” invited the cop.

Continue reading

How Trauma Affects Creativity

Last week my post dealt with emotions and their interplay with creativity. This week I found a “sequel” if you will regarding creativity and how trauma affects it. The input that follows is by the same therapist as last week, Mihaela Ivan Holtz, Doctor in Clinical Psychology. It’s an interesting read and one in which I hope you’ll get as much out of as I did.

Mihaela Ivan Holtz

During my creative endeavors, I have experienced most if not all of what Mihaela talks about. When I’m in a slump, it’s not fun. When I experience a setback, it’s definitely not fun. In fact, it’s quite stressful. That’s why I have a weekly talk with my therapist to go over what’s bothering me.

Take it away, Mihaela . . .

Creativity is a vital life force energy. We connect with that energy within us and use it to express art that comes from the deepest parts of the self.

Creativity feeds off of other vital energies that exist inside of us, including imagination, courage, authenticity, and vulnerability. Creativity requires our passion, love, and playfulness. It requires our curiosity and our spirit of exploration. It requires us to show up and do the work of creating in order to keep it alive.

Creativity asks us to trust in our abilities and our vision. It asks us to call on our talents, skills, and unique gifts and use them to make that inspiration into reality. It asks for our determination and devotion. It asks us to invest in ourselves and to commit to our own sense of agency.

Our creativity is there at all times. It’s a flicker ready to be ignited by our life experiences and turned into a great flame. It wants to guide us along the quest to create a life inspired by our dreams and goals.

All these – our imagination and passion, vulnerability and courage, curiosity and playfulness, trust and determination, talents and skills, exploration and commitment, and our sense of agency – come together to make up our creative emotional space.

The creative emotional space is a beautiful, powerful space that every artist and creative hopes to be in just about all the time. Unfortunately, it can be diminished or destroyed by our unhealed backstories. Unresolved emotional trauma can hold us back and take us off track.

Creatives and Artists Respond to Trauma in Different Ways

Some remarkably productive creative people can actively transform their pain into creative endeavors. Their creativity becomes a vehicle for healing. Their internal healing and growth continues to inspire and motivate them to be more creative.

Their creativity and emotional healing work together in a synergistic relationship. They are healed and transformed by their creative work, and become more and more creative as they face their pain.

Some people can be very creative despite trauma, but they are not engaged in a healing process. They can access their emotional creative space and make music, movies, novels, books, paintings, fashion, or build businesses, and consistently turn their ideas into reality.

But, when they move outside that creative space, they live with unmetabolized emotional pain. This often shows up as with anxiety, depression, and/or addictions.

Then there are those who can access their emotional creative space but the exposure to their inner world causes them to be re-traumatized, over and over again. Their stories or creative endeavors trigger unhealed trauma and they get trapped in old, painful patterns. Sometimes, very successful creatives get stuck in this unproductive emotional creative space when they least expect it.

Despite years of success, depression, anxiety, or addictions can emerge from those unresolved emotional wounds and trap an individual in a loop of creative decline. 

Female with long hair, looking down, her face covered by a hat that she is holding with one hand

There are some who can’t access their emotional creative space, and that in itself feeds their emotional pain, depression, anxiety, and addictions. They can’t realize their creative potential and feel unable to access and use their true resources. This sense of being cut off from their creative self is traumatic in itself.

They feel they’re living a small life in which they don’t belong. They know they could accomplish more and experience a more fulfilling life, but they are trapped in longing.

Perhaps you see yourself in one of these profiles? Whatever experience most closely matches yours, there is support.

What else do creatives need to know about the role of trauma can play in work and life?

Continue reading

Creativity Takes Courage

Fear and courage don’t seem likely bedfellows. Yet, they are showing us every day how they play together amongst the citizenry of Ukraine. When you’re fighting for survival, it stretches the limit of one’s creativity. Some may say that creativity is not even involved in warfare. I disagree.

While creativity in warfare interacts with a much higher level of courage and seriousness compared to presenting an advertising campaign, it requires effort and takes courage, as Matisse says. The Ukranian people are showing resiliency and mucho bravery. Creativity lives within that realm.

Fear and courage impact our creative thinking and expression

Even in a non-combat zone, fear attacks us everyday. Courage is what most of us try and muster to get through a day’s time unscathed by said fear. We may not be fighting to stay alive but we are fighting. We’re fighting our internal demons and our self-doubt. We’re fighting to retain some of our creativity and resourcefulness.

Author and teacher Elizabeth Gilbert admits “the only reason I can speak so authoritatively about fear is that I know it so intimately. I know every inch of fear, from head to toe. I’ve been a frightened person my entire life.”

She points out that “Evolution did well to install a fear reflex within you, because if you didn’t have any fear, you would lead a short, crazy, stupid life. You would walk into traffic. You would jump into giant waves off the coast of Hawaii, despite being a poor swimmer…

“So, yes, you absolutely do need your fear, in order to protect you from actual dangers.

But you do not need your fear in the realm of creative expression.

Continue reading

The Shadows: a Short Story of Ghastly Gatherings

Today is a different kind of blog post. I’m using it to introduce my newest piece of short story fiction. It took me a longer than expected amount of time to complete it, but I finally did. Hope you enjoy it!

********

Welcome! This is a profile in the macabre. It’s a short story about a family who lived in the 19th Century. They lived a rather normal lifestyle back then, aside from a few setbacks in life. They’ve survived but not in the way you might expect.

Introducing the Graybeers: Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan and Priscilla Graybeers, and their two children, Tony and Stephanie, ages 14 and 16, respectively, at the time of death. Tony was shot in the head while Stephanie was downed by an ax. Back in 1862.

Mr. and Mrs. Graybeers committed suicide, each at the other’s hands. In 1863, following a tumultuous year of mental anguish over the loss of their children. It seems mental illness takes its toll.

Looking back, they were a typical northeastern suburban family, college educated, upper middle class, sports-minded.

In present day, they’re like most other families of similar ilk except for one thing: they can disappear. Oh, yes, one other thing: they don’t really have human form; they’re not ghosts, they’re shadows from their former life. They even live in a mansion called The Shadows, which is near a cemetery.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-cemetary-by-jaroslav-gebr.jpg
The Cemetery by Jaroslav Gebr

Aside from select social occasions, the family rarely leaves the Shadows. The mansion has been in their family for centuries. And the location next to the cemetery has always been a family favorite, so no one has ever thought of selling the property.

Although on rare occasions, an unwitting realtor will appear at the door only to be “greeted” by Mr. Graybeers himself. But being a shadow, he really can’t be seen so the realtor leaves his card and walks away, seemingly unaffected by the opening and closing of the door — by itself.

Continue reading

Happy Thanksgiving to All!!

 

Leave it to Charlie Brown and Snoopy to bring out the goodness in all of us. Plus, a chuckle or two as well. As we give Thanks today, let us remember the “small” things along with the larger items on our Thankful List. I’m thankful I can still chuckle! I’m thankful for lunch and dinner invitations so I don’t have to cook. I’m thankful for good cooks. I’m thankful for fellowship with good friends. I’m thankful for meeting new friends.

So as we sit down to Thanksgiving Dinner today, let’s remember it was only last year that most of us couldn’t have an in-person visit with family and/or friends. Today, most of us can. Bring on the turkey and the stuffing along with the pumpkin and pecan pies. Don’t forget the hearty appetites and the good cheer to spread. Enjoy your Thanksgiving. We deserve it. Oh, yeah, leave room for seconds and leftovers!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog,Joe’s Journey, for personal insights on life and its detours.

Death Resides in an Upstairs Room

Sometimes death takes on different forms for different people. This is a tale about one of those times.

Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.

Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was.

There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well. — Author Unknown

Excuse me a moment. Believe someone’s at the door.

(Hears knocking.) Hmmm, sounds like from upstairs but I don’t have an upstairs.

(Door sounds, squeakily opens.)

“Pam?” I ask. No response.

“Pam?” I ask again. 

“I can’t come out but you can come in,” she intones.

“I hear your voice but can’t see you. If this is what I think it is, I can’t come up there now. It’s not yet my time,” I say.

Then slowly I hear a squeaky door closing. 

“Pam?”, I ask. No response. Then again; nothing.

Then, faintly, as if In the distance, I hear a door close.

I stand there, frozen and jarred by the experience.

News Bulletin from the Interdimensional News Agency:

Did this really happen? Does life exist that close to another dimension? Does just a door we cannot see separate us from the hereafter? Who knows!

Perhaps in the Twilight Zone it does, but this is not the TZ. Or is it?

Perhaps it’s simply a page-turn at the chapter’s end in the multidimensional book of life and death.

“Pam? . . . Pam?”. . . Fade to black . . .

That was over a year ago and nothing like that has reoccurred. I think back on that evening from time to time wondering if it did, in fact, happen or was I just dreaming.

This particular evening was quiet and I found myself curled up in my easy chair with a good book. I had just come to a stopping point and started to head off to bed when I heard what I thought was a very squeaky door slowly opening. Thinking to myself it came from next door, I went off to bed.

“Joe?” the voice intoned in what was more like a low whisper.

“Joe?” the voice asked again.

I froze. I just stood there, saying and doing nothing.

“Who’s there?,” I asked, not really expecting a reply.

“I can’t come out but you can come in,” the voice replied softly.

Not again, I thought. This can’t be happening.

“Joe?,” said the voice again. “Please come up and join me. I miss you!” she said .

Playing along, I said “Who is this and what do you want?”

“It’s me, Pam. Please join me upstairs.”

“I don’t have an upstairs and you can’t be Pam. My wife died over a year ago,” I said.

“If this is some sort of sick, perverted joke, I don’t appreciate it!,” I stressed.

“It’s no joke, Joe,” the voice said softly. “It is me, Pam, and you do have an upstairs, just not like you know it to be.”

Then, for some strange reason, I turned around and looked back toward the living room and kitchen area. There was a cloud-like haze inside the apartment, almost like a cloud had seeped inside hugging just below the ceiling.

I heard what sounded like a door slowly rocking back and forth on its hinges. I stood there in awe of what I thought I saw.

What was this sight I was seeing. Could it be an actual cloud? No, that’s impossible, I thought. Another dimension?

Then the voice again, “Joe, come join me. I miss you.” This time the voice was much clearer and louder, but not yelling. “There’s a room that’s been made ready for you. It’s right next to mine. Won’t you please join us?” she asked.

“Us?” I said. “Who’s us,” I asked.

No answer. Silence. Utter stillness.

Yet, the “cloud” remained. Was it an entrance to another dimension? Was this voice talking and beckoning to me really Pam? I didn’t know. I just know that during this time the hairs on the back of my heard were still at attention and I was quite uneasy.

Meanwhile, that slow rhythmical squeaking of a door rocking back and forth on its hinges was the only sound I heard.

Until I didn’t. Then the door closed shut, rather startlingly.

“Pam? . . . Pam?” I called out.

Silence.

Continue reading

Pamela’s Lantern

A short tale of life and the somewhat perversely humorous after life.

The lantern stands guard over Pamela’s cremated remains until one day magically transforms another living being into the remains the lantern is guarding so that Pamela takes new life in the other living being’s body.

The lantern stands guard constantly overlooking the ornate, Chinese red urn containing Pamela’s remains. Almost like a person, the lantern is always looking from an angle, never taking its stare away from the urn. Its duty is to protect, watch over and remain a reminder that all is calm, peaceful, okay – A little like the eternal flame at JFK’S grave site.

By all appearances the lantern is normal looking, what one might expect at seeing a candle perched inside a window-latticed, red-lacquered, nautically designed portable lamp.

It’s normal looking and serves its purpose as a lamp overlooking Pam’s oriental urn. That is, except for when it decides to act independently and transform a living body’s substance into cremated remains and then swap them out with Pamela’s.

Admittedly a neat trick that not every lantern is capable of doing. Why it performs this rather perverse ritual, if one wants to call it that, is unknown at this juncture. It just does it. Randomly. It’s as if the lantern has a sixth sense about the person with whom it selects to interact.

You might be asking yourself how I know this happens at all. Have I witnessed this rather profane exercise in transformation? Has it happened to me? It has not. Yet! Though I wonder what type of emotional ties does the lantern have with its “subjects”. I sense it wants what’s best for Pam, to bring her joy and comfort in some very strange and weird way.

Assuming this to be true, I’d surmise that my transformation would be soon to come. I am, after all, Pam’s widower.

Can a lantern get jealous?, I asked myself one day. How can it?; it’s not a living being, I reasoned. It’s more of an entity, a thing that lights up. But it’s an entity that keeps watch over a very important vase, one in which my wife’s ashes are kept. Somehow, I think it knows that. It’s seen me take them out of the vase since they’re contained in a large plastic bag within the vase. It’s watched me handle them with utmost care. It knows of their importance.

On the other side of Pam’s urn is a cute little stuffed raccoon I gave her years ago. The raccoon, nicknamed Lil’ Rocky, also stands guard. Pamela is well protected should anything bad befall her.

11:48 pm – that’s when the lantern turns itself on every night. When that happens, it casts an entirely different light on its shelf. Though it doesn’t cast that much illumination on Pamela’s urn, it does cast a lovely glow that brings about a peaceful setting in the darkness.

Every time I get up during the night, I look over to notice the lamp and to make sure all is okay. This night was no exception. The lantern automatically turns off at about 4:15 am and all is dark in the living room. I go back to bed and wake up after the sun’s up.

One morning as I was walking through the room heading to the kitchen to make some coffee, I looked over at Pam’s urn and wished her good morning, just like I always do. After I made my coffee, I started walking back into the bedroom but paused my stride and turned back to glance in the direction of Pam and the lantern.

Everything looked the same but I stood there wondering why I had stopped to glance her way. I even walked up a few steps to get a closer look but nothing appeared out of the ordinary. I just thought I was still asleep since I hadn’t even taken sip number one of my coffee.

I didn’t realize at the time I wasn’t the only one wondering if something was amiss.

As I returned to my work area later that day, I noticed nothing odd at all. I didn’t give it another thought, so to work I went. Towards the end of this day as I was winding down, I went through my routine of shutting things off and getting ready for bed. Upon leaving my study, I glanced up to Pam’s area to bid her goodnight and I noticed something was different, if ever so slightly.

Both the lantern and the Chinese urn were exactly the same but the little raccoon was different; she was now turned to a position where she was looking down at me, where I usually work. I kind of shook my head thinking I was viewing this in a bit of a haze. Upon another gaze, I realized I was seeing things correctly. The raccoon had definitely changed positions. How? I didn’t have the foggiest idea!

I just stood there, staring up at the bookshelf where I had placed her. Without thinking, I reached up and turned her back into her original position at a slight angle, looking more at the Chinese urn than in my direction below. After doing that, I turned around and marched off to bed, turning off lights as I went.

Continue reading

Stopover at the Majestic.

A time traveler with his magic walking stick that, among other things, makes him invisible on demand and also serves as a teleportation device, travels back to 1965 to visit the Majestic Hotel in Lake Charles, LA. Just before it’s torn down. Unbeknownst to him, however, he’s not the only one who made the trek.

i

Dressed in a three piece, white linen suit with straw hat, the Visitor was no stranger to style. His cane, or walking stick as it is sometimes referred, is black with an ornate, brass top as if to resemble the crown on an office building. A green button is displayed in its center.

He slowly gazes around the elaborate lobby as if he’s expecting someone; either that, or he’s casing the joint for future opportunity of financial gain. Somehow, I rather doubt that.

There seems to be electricity in the air today as if all those gathered here anticipate some grand event. No doubt many a grand event has been held in this majestic old hotel. Yet this day seems different.

He stops a nearby guest and inquires, “I say, pardon me, but what’s all the excitement around the lobby today?” The reply is anything but cordial. “Excitement? What excitement?” exclaims the guest.

“Don’t you know?” asks the guest. “Why the Majestic is being torn down. After all these years the grand ole dame is being reduced to shambles and rubble,” he says. “Damn shame if ya ask me!” he sniffs.

The Visitor sits there, expressionless for the most part. He studies the lobby and its inhabitants. It’s not like they are a vengeful mob about to attack. It’s more like they anticipate the destruction without knowing when.

The Visitor senses this and begins to move about, first, though giving his cane a friendly glance.

Slowly, deliberately he begins to meander throughout the lobby, gradually making his way toward the front door and eventually onto the lobby porch or as it’s more commonly referred, the South Porch.

The Visitor stops and simply stands there, weighing in on the sights in the street before him as well as the few men seated in the many rocking chairs along the porch. It’s a mild Summer day and not nearly as warm as would normally be the case in Southwest Louisiana.

The Majestic Hotel was quite the luminary in its day, having hosted Harry Houdini, the Barrymores, General and Mrs. Eisenhower and Jackie and John Kennedy. It had its own power plant and water system, as well as ceiling fans in every room. It had a popular restaurant and was alleged to have hosted every president from Theodore Roosevelt to JFK, though not necessarily when they were president. Yet despite all this, it was deemed “obsolete” in 1965 and was demolished for parking.

The Visitor gazes down at his cane and wonders to himself, “Hmmmmm . . .”

“Damn shame about the pending destruction of the Majestic, doncha think, Mr. , uh . . .,” queries the porch stranger as he approaches the Visitor. “Can’t you do anything about it?,” he asks, assuming the Visitor is in management with the hotel.

“Sir, I’m just a guest, like you. I don’t know what to tell you. Oh, the name is Curtis, Mr. Curtis,” replied the Visitor. “But I will say I tend to agree with you in that it is a shame about the hotel’s destruction. It’s especially true if they aren’t planning to build another fine hotel in its place.,” said Curtis.

Our Visitor knew and thought to himself that, according to the Space-Time Continuum, the destruction of the hotel could not be changed. It will go as planned here in 1965. Curtis can’t change that nor does he want to do so, even though he does think it’s a mistake.

Perhaps it’s time to return to a period when the hotel was at its roaring best, he wonders, the Twenties.

Gradually making his way back into the lobby, our Visitor ventures down a hallway leading, eventually, to a row of guest rooms. After he makes sure he is alone in the hall, he quietly but directly speaks into the crown of his Walking Stick, “Majestic Hotel, Lake Charles, Louisiana, Lobby Bar, circa 1925.”

He presses the green button atop its face and . . . he’s gone!

Continue reading