The Impressions

Sometimes it's really hard to put more than two words together and come up with something meaningful. The self-imposed pressure to do something that matters takes a deadly toll on already feeble inspiration, and it's gloomy and raining outside and I don't want to walk home to lunch. This morning I ran to then on a track. As soon as I got there, I saw the old man running back and forth, about a half length of one of the long sides of the track. I would round the last curve of the track, and he would be running towards me full speed (for him, at least), teetering on his old legs, swaying back and forth at a mesmerizing (and concerning) pitch. As I got closer I started to move over on the track so we wouldn't collide, but right before I reached him he abruptly turned around and ran the other way. I passed him and kept going, and the scenario repeated itself as many times as I circled the track.

I spent my run thankful that my knees didn't hurt, and thinking about why that man, who had the whole track to run around, was using only a tiny section. I saw the bicycle on my first lap around, but didn't put it together until the third or fourth lap. He was running that short piece of track to babysit his bike, which was standing tall and proud on a kickstand next to the fence. And he had a bike lock on his bike, unused, and a coat draped over it, like the covering of a proud and chilly racehorse.

He was running his short laps to watch his bike, and although I tend to shy away from philosophics (which is not a real word), I wondered why he wasn't using the lock, instead running 30 yards back and forth to watch it. Maybe the dark had something to do with it, maybe it was an expensive bike (I didn't stop to look at it, after all, he was right there), maybe it was actually a trap and he wasn't as feeble as he appeared to be, maybe it wasn't his bike at all and he just really likes running 40 paces back and forth. And back and forth. And back and forth. And back and... You get it.

It really doesn't matter very much, but it made an impression on me, and hours later, I'm sitting at my desk, glad that the rain didn't ruin my shoes on my walk home for lunch, and thinking about that guy who just kept running back and forth.

Write about what makes an impression on you. Maybe someday you'll realize it mattered more than you thought.

Why Fall is Writing Weather

Fall is writer's season. Winter is full of short days of gray skies and cold wind, punctuated by the short thrill and glitter of a fresh coat of snow. Winter is reader's weather; all it begs is a cozy blanket, a hot beverage, and a thick spine. Spring is a universal sigh of relief, across profession and personality, as the heart and the soul remember that cold is not the only temperature. Summer is working and playing weather—for playing just as hard as working. But fall, fall. Fall belongs to the writer. The crisp nights, the sun-warmed noons, the leaves that rustle louder and louder as they change colors. The colors that defy even imagination and leave us stunned with their humble beauty. Fall is the writer's because everything about fall is worth writing about. The sunrise that creeps later and later into the morning, so those of us who sleep past 6am can actually see it some days; the smell of dust and must and fresh chill, and the steady stream of leaves wandering to the ground that prove Isaac Newton right once again.

There are many schools of thought about the best environment for writing. Some prefer the middle of the night. Others want the calm of a long summer day. The gray of poverty to stimulate the imagination, the sparkle of riches to write about 'what is,' the open room with a desk and a chair and sheets and sheets of cream paper and a smooth pen. But left out of every description is the most important part: fall. Fall makes the soul sing when the body must continue routine. There is good to find in every season—but it's easiest to find in fall.

*What's your ideal writing place? I'd love to hear from you.