Aiming The Mind
John Updike is quoted as saying, "When I write, I aim in my mind not toward New York but toward a vague spot a little to the east of Kansas. I think of the books on library shelves, without their jackets, years old, and a countryish teen-aged boy finding them, and having them speak to him." This is meant not to be geographical: a little to the east of Kansas is Missouri. And those of us who have no real clue about Kansas (except that, Toto, we're not there anymore) probably don't know anything about Missouri either. I understand the remark to mean something about a literary ideal that lacks presumption. The remark also wonderfully raises the question for me of where I aim my mind when I write.
Where indeed. The Dream Antilles is a secret, moving, uncharted spot in the Caribbean, and its people, the locals and the tourists, are, well, not from Kansas. A wise person has told me these people seem autobiographical. So be it. Another might claim they are archetypes. I prefer to think of them as people. But where I aim my mind, dear reader, is another matter entirely.
It's true. Updike's metaphor is geographical, mine is metaphysical. I aim my mind for your heart. I want your heart and my mind to hug and have a conversation. I want your heart to fill with vast love, perfect justice, compassion, understanding, faith, hope, and joy, and I want my mind to put its arm around your heart's shoulder and whisper, "Isn't this really beautiful? Isn't peace worth the journey?" I want whatever rusted shutters are cloistering your heart to creak open so that you can be enveloped in bliss, peace and beauty. May it be so.
I have been called "so idealistic," as if that were not a good thing. And "optimistic." I don't really mind. I want to be like this, and no affront to the midwest, I'm happy I'm not aiming for a vague spot a little to the east of Kansas. I prefer reaching out and giving a hug.