Sometimes I find myself uninspired. Creatively shot. My mind becomes a veritable wasteland. Think dust blowing over a dry lake bed, a potholed lunar landscape, a book signing where no one shows up. The next turn of phrase, the analogy, adverb or adjective is on the tip of my tongue but that tongue is tied. The fuel pumpâ€™s blocked, the door is closed. I am, so to speak, between a creative rock and a hard place. Giving up is out of the question, so I take a walk to jar my thoughts lose. My destination is the bustling village a mile down the hill from my house.
If I head to the beach, I will walk on white sand that rings the sapphire blue ocean which fills a horseshoe of a bay. I can see Malibu across the water and dolphin in the curl of the waves as they frolic with the surfers. There are skaters, volleyball players, cyclists and a plethora of beautiful California bodies which I would probably appreciate more if I were younger (the bodies, not the view). As it is, all those beautiful people only serve to remind me that Iâ€™m not younger.
If I go the other way I walk on asphalt, past rows of well-kept, modestly-sized ranch style houses. This is the route I usually take because there is one house that never fails to pique my curiosity. Actually, it isnâ€™t the house but the rock that sits on the lawn in front of the house that I find so curious.
This rock is unimpressively grey, round on top and flat on the bottom. Rather than move it, the owner of the house planted grass around it. The lawn is beautiful; the rock is not. The rock is arm-span wide and a little more than knee-high. There is a stone on top of it that looks like a dinosaur egg. The rock and the stone could be one of those Boy Scout signs my brothers built in the backyard as if they believed I couldnâ€™t find my way home. This rock is just like that but it points the way to inspiration. Whoever lives in the house makes the rock and stone his canvas and three times a year it becomes something else entirely.
In October the rock is wrapped in orange paper, the stone in green and it is transformed into a pumpkin.
Come December, the rock becomes a granite snowman with a red and green stripped scarf wrapped around its nonexistent neck.*
Ah, spring! Rock as Easter Bunnyâ€¦.
You get the idea.
With a little help, the rock and stone become a herald of good cheer and harbinger of happy times to come. The rock speaks of faithfulness, passing each year with the owner of the house, marking time, submitting to the â€˜artistsâ€™ vision. The rock, all dressed up, is funny and pleasing to the eye and unexpected. Dressing it up is a public service and I, as a member of the public, never cease to be delighted by the ever morphing rock and his friend the stone. Here is a story told completely and without need of explanation or overt flourish.
I believe in getting lost in a narrative, in creating fantasy, in telling a good story. I believe that around every corner is a mystery or mayhem or madness or magic if we just keep our eyes open. I believe that someday I will walk by the rock and it will lament that it is too hot to wear a scarf during the California Christmas season. When that happens, Iâ€™ll pause and loosen the scarf. Maybe Iâ€™ll rest on the lawn and weâ€™ll have a chat.
And when my mind is mired, when I feel that I am stone deaf to inspiration and that my creativity is weighed down by real life, I donâ€™t despair. I know I will have to go no further to find either than to walk through a modest neighborhood where I will give a wink and nod to a rock, a stone and whoever is in that house who can teach me a thing or two about inspiration.
*This year another rock has been added and a hat has rounded out the ensemble. I preferred the simplicity of the rock, the stone and the scarf but I applaud the extra inspiration and creativity. Here’s wishing everyone a little inpspiration in the year to come. Happy holidays.