I will admit it……I have time on my hands these days. Over the past couple weeks I have invested a few hours rereading my October Years Blog Compilation - Volume 1 …….visiting earlier posts to this blog site.
What follows is a post from several years back that I still find rather thought provoking……. something that might make sense to any age group, but seems especially relevant for October Years readers.
I would appreciate your thoughts on this look into the notion of Soulmates. What do you think…..does it ring true to you?
A Soulmate? Are You Sure?
The rains have returned and a brisk October wind is blowing leaves past my window. I won’t be working outside this afternoon, so why not settle back in the recliner and let the recurring stream of pleasant thoughts have their way with me? You can chalk up today’s post as unadulterated self-indulgence. As I say in the heading, this is a “writer’s blog.”
For some of us it ranks high on our list of October perks---these unstructured, sometimes nostalgic visits to. our personal past....to well-remembered good times, hoping to recapture the ethereal essence that made them so memorable in the first place.
‘Fess up now, you’ve been there too, haven’t you? When it feels like you are visiting an old friend, or reconnecting to a special time spent with your children and grandchildren, the ones you watched as they grew into the persons they have become.
In the moments when I return to the “writer” side of me, I must confess to doses of that same “feel-good” comfort when I close my eyes and revisit any one of my Tanner Chronicle stories.
After all, these tales are the offspring of my imagination, that indefinable something we sometimes wish we could hide from, but never can. From that murky reservoir of dated, but never-outgrown highs and lows I have birthed each of those stories---sending my fictional friends off to live out the path they choose, sometimes pulling me along in ways I never expected, toward outcomes I had not foreseen. The results are almost always different than what I originally had in mind, leaving an unsuspecting October dreamer like me to wonder---where did this twist or that one come from?
For instance, imbedded in Long Way Home, the second half of a two-book story that begins with Second Chances, Clint Harris finds himself taking an unexpected, but intriguing side trip---a long-awaited visit with the woman he thinks might be his “soulmate.”
Like you, I had read about “soulmates.” Though I suppose the term means different things to different people, the basic idea is probably the same---that there is someone out there with whom you are paired in some mysterious, predestined way
In Clint’s case, the lure of a soulmate is actually a fall-back situation, a way out when there seem to be no other options. He had lost his wife years before. The lady he hoped might fill that void has apparently taken up with his rival---Fat Tom Berry.
From a writer’s standpoint it would have been awkward, so late in the story, to introduce a new female character who’s only purpose for being there was to provide Clint with another round of relational failure. So instead I have him considering a possibility that at least some of us can imagine and perhaps even relate to---meeting again after sixty-some years the person who first stirred those emotional fires---the one who might be his “soulmate.”
It begins as a mind game---as it would for any of us---an angst-driven return to the memory of a special adolescent moment, one he had carried somewhere in the back of his mind for his entire adult life.
Though he could not know it at the time the impact of that incident on a young Clint Harris had been indelible---a brief, emotion-packed taste of how the affirmation he longed for ought to feel---providing a relational baseline he had never outgrown.
Now, deep in his October Years, yearning for what he apparently cannot have, he returns to what-might-have-been. In spite of his doubts he wants to believe that long ago “soulmate” could be the answer to his emptiness. With each swallow, his whiskey-propelled remembering of whom “she” had been sixty years before grows more persuasive. Finally, after enough swallows, he finds the courage to plan a much-belated reunion.
So there I was, sitting at the computer as I composed Clint Harris’ story---sifting through bit and pieces of my own youthful history, gathering snippets from which to assemble a rationale for the feelings I wanted him to feel.
I wanted to imagine how it would feel to be caught up in that disorienting mind-drama so late in life. Before long I was wondering if they are real, those soulmates I was writing about. If so, did that mean the sweet lady who has been at my side for more than sixty-five years was intended from the beginning to be there? Was that the Big Guy’s plan for us from the start---a pairing of soulmates?
Of course, in the fictional setting I had created I was also dealing with other, more practical questions. Their stories---both Clint’s and his potential soulmate’s---had to provide some explanation of how a chance connection made sixty years earlier could have survived to become a possible “second chance.”
What had there been about their first encounter, so brief and noncommittal, that now made her soulmate material? If it had been meant to be, if they had really been soulmates, why hadn’t it happened the first time?
Without dwelling on the outcome of Clint’s soulmate adventure, let me take a moment to turn from the ethereal realm of literary construction to a more personal real-life look at how each of us---you, me, and everyone---deals with our own unique set of adolescent lessons.
How was it for you? Were those “first time” experiences, the ones that felt so real in the moment, simply discarded and erased from your memory? Or did they, in some form---real or imagined---find a permanent home in some far corner of your mind?
And if so, have they played any role in your becoming the person you are? Were they an important part of that process, or simply a bit of excess baggage you could have just as well unloaded?
Finally, having imagined the story of Clint Harris’ return to his roots, hoping to find his soulmate, I was left to put those conflicting elements on paper, a paragraph at a time.
In truth I approached that process with a degree of timidity---proceeding with the certain knowledge that once finished, as I always do I would be asking my own soulmate to read and critique my stumbling description of a time before we met, when perhaps an earlier soulmate candidate had crossed my path.
Since then I have walked that slightly intimidating path again and again---every time the “Her” in my life reads one of my ten Tanner Chronicle stories---ones that by their very nature have included my personal interpretations of the “mind matter” I have gathered and stored away over the years.
Truth is, it’s not something we normally talk about. Yet by the time she had finished reading my “soulmate” explanation I was accepting her willingness to be part of the process as the ultimate endorsement of our shared history.
So what is your take on the cache of “mind clutter” you have stored away over the years---be it “soulmate” related or other “becoming” recollections? Does any of that matter at all? Is it simply the stuff of an overactive imagination? (To which I plead guilty.) Or is it an acceptable way of recalling what we are sometimes unable to put into words? I would appreciate hearing your thoughts.