I didn't enter the inaugural edition, because, frankly, I wasn't in the mood. I did however know who was going to win as soon as I saw that he had entered -- Jon the Faux Cowboy [See Lone Star Concerto in Other Journals]. I didn't even have to read the other essays to figure this out, but I managed to wade through about half of them. No contest, even before I read his.
Jon will win every writing competition he enters, so I will go on record as saying that he has to agree to retire after he takes the trophy a fifth time.
Meanwhile, lacking any of my own subjects to write about lately, because nothing seems funny to me since early in June, I thought I would steal the subject for the artsy essay to use as an entry: What is my favorite or most inspiring possession?
Oddly, for a long time I've tried to be more zen about my possessions. I guess in eastern thought you don't own them, they tend to own you. The idea is to be able to live without them and not notice their absence. But, truth be told, I consume as conspicuously as the next person, so I actually have many favorite possessions from microfiber underwear to ThorLo socks to Scott's new soft toilet paper to Nexxus shampoo. It's just that they're not the kinds of things most people would put into a category worthy of contemplating for an essay contest.
On the other hand I do have many things other people might consider more suitable favorite possessions, because they're of the jewelry or statue variety, but while I like baubles and cement angels as much as the next person, I don't feel an attachment to them or any appreciation that borders on favoritism, let alone inspiration.
Certainly not in the way I feel about things I rely on and use every day. Like when I was still playing all my sports and found a shoe that felt like a cloud on my feet. Or socks that kept me from getting blisters when I ran. Or a pair of sunglasses that helped me see the ball better. They inspired a WOW factor in my life, but not say, in yours.
Already you can see the reason I didn't enter the essay contest -- my tastes are too plebian. Plus in order to win I'd have to describe my favorite things using multiple fifty dollar words and I've spent a lifetime paring my writing style down. I tend towrite like a woman without her make up on. Whereas Jon, who won the contest, writes like he's wearing a tuxedo and smells faintly of citrus aftershave --
The sudden streak of a shooting star ignites the vast darkness with celestial light, then vanishes more quickly than an eyewink, never to be seen again. A minuscule blink in a fathomless universe, like the fleeting lives of all those whom I have lost - once so real and animate, now gone forever in the unreachable distance of the past.
See what I mean? I don't have time to write like that. Jon, on the other hand, writes that way effortlessly. And lays it out on a silver platter. My stuff is like cold pizza on a paper towel.
Jon's essay inspired me to look up at the sky last night through the open sunroof on my car, although I guess when the sun goes down it's a moon roof. I see the same sky that Jon sees, only mine is full of light pollution. My reaction to seeing the four stars that broke through the haze of the city's golden glow? Wow, stars!! When was the last time I saw one? Oh, wait, that one over there is moving. Holy crap, that's a satellite and it's the brightest light in the sky!
Clearly he and I do not share the same world view when we look up to the heavens.
I don't think in descriptive phrases. Thinking of enough words to string together in a lyrical combination is like pulling teeth through my brain. It's painful and I feel so tired afterward. The best I can do is think in similes and metaphors because they're easier.
As I mentioned earlier, the artsy essay topic was not only about favorite things but also INSPIRING ones. For some reason I can't wrap my head around the idea of a possession that provides inspiration.
Of course, as soon as I wrote that sentence, I thought of one.
My piano was an inspiration for many years, but I'd messed up the ring finger on my right hand so much from sports that I had to tape it up just to play. Load up on Advil too. Eventually the discomfort affected any inspiration I experienced playing Chopin or Rachmaninoff, my two favorite piano boys. Late in life I also realized that my technique was terrible, uneven and harsh. But when my finger didn'tlock up playing the big chords, I still got a rush playing loud and fast.
I had a boss who brought in a baby grand for his office when he started to take lessons. I loved going in there at the end of the day to play. In less than two years he was playing the same pieces I'd worked on for years, with an emotional finesse that left a lasting impression on me. He had a natural gift. It was the first time I really noticed there could be a difference in the way people played a piano. I figured hitting a key was hitting a key. What a cluck I was.
Despite my shortcomings, I got tremendous personal satisfaction from spending an hour or two practicing. The same way I enjoyed a good tennis match or long bike ride. It's not the destination, but the journey.
I haven't played the piano in years. It just sits there unused, the bench filled with unplayed tunes. Same with my tennis and paddle rackets, baseball cleats, and my road bike. Relics of a life I can no longer live.
Too bad knives and forks couldn't become relics of food I no longer eat. Like that will ever happen.