This morning I woke up and realized that no magic had squirmed through the window during the night to allow me to sit down at my keyboard and, just like that, put together sentences that you would mistake for Raymond Chandler's writing. Dang.
While searching, without success unless you want to count people who didn't hit it BIG until they were 30, for Late Bloomers, I thought Chandler might fit into the category, but alas he saw "The Big Sleep" hit the bookstores when he was 51, by which time he had been writing for "Black Mask" magazine, on the heels of younger efforts in what his biography described as, "...book reviews and bad poetry."
The Chandler fansite has a changing collection of quotes from his work, each rich and vivid and real enough to remind me why he and his characters endure. From his novel, "The Little Sister," they featured this sentence: She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight. Reading his words makes me smile and I wish life hadn't brought him depression, alcoholism and disenchantment. Even with such plagues, his thoughts and means of expressing them remain true and timeless and cause other writers moments of grief and envy.
If there is a point to this, it is to hold on to your vision. Other than Anna Mary Robertson "Grandma" Moses, I wasn't able to construct the hoped-for list of notables for whom success arrived after their hair had started to gray. But then we need to discuss what success means. In her novel, "Charms for the Easy Life," Kaye Gibbons has a character tell us of man who survived hanging and, I think, several other unpleasant encounters, yet who had the titled charms in his possession. Observing that the charms seemed not to have helped him, we are told that it all, "...depends on your definition of easy."
Success in achieving peace of mind, in releasing feelings of ill will, of finding good in situations from which it seems to have fled, of remaining open-hearted when word from all sides might call that foolish, where will we find the list of our fellows who achieved that at any age? While we work on the outside, scribbling through unsatisfactory sentences for their inability to hold up from one generation to the next, we can work on the inside. My emerging awareness tells me that a quiet mind, trust in a good outcome and knowing the difference between who I am and who I am not will carry me in the appropriate direction.
As I try to edge closer to Mr. Chandler, wishing I could offer to carry his briefcase or run to the store for a new bottle of ink or fresh typewriter ribbon, I know it matters that we water and talk to our dreams, encouraging the sprouts, praising the blossom that becomes the peach. It matters that we remember none of this is a contest; to become conscious is neither a team activity nor a competitive sport. It is a process whose language is spoken in words such as emerge, develop, evolve, expand. If we remain steadfast to those as goals, how can we be anything other than successful? Please excuse my ignorance, but I think it is the Shakers who say, "Hands to work, hearts to God." Allowing for varying definitions of God - and success - and the simple joy of a delete button and not all that White Out, we can craft tales and art and music that will grow our hearts and pull our aspirations within reach. Those who doubt their ability to lasso the moon only need more time to practice with the rope.