Impressionist Stories


If poems are to story what Impressionism is to landscape, here I’ll dabble in the mixtures.

What if I just wrote a little scene with glimpses of light and feeling, brush strokes of an ordinary day?  It probably won’t count as a story.

It may not peer deeply into a psychological truth, or reveal a flash of insight. But perhaps today I have a craving for something simple to mellow out the stressfull thoughts, like a balm applied to the scattering of randomness that seems to dominate my mental state since putting certain apps on my phone.

And so being this distracted, there’s no story here.

Just a few little moments.

I walked outside on a familiar bustling street, the wind in my face, in my hair.  Jeans on my legs, cotton flannel on my chest, back and arms. To walk was liberation.  I was alone. Strides long, energy high, I felt everything, the muscles in my body working as if I were a little horse. Forward, fast and free.  I came upon the bookstore before I was ready to stop walking in this air so charged with alive-ness, feeling bliss, feeling high on low temps. A northerner can be once again at home when the breeze whips up into something like gusty blows.  But there was the doorway.  Overhead, the tree planted in the sidewalk commanded me to enter, slaping her branches together and smacking the air with her leaves.

Inside, I was captured in the house of words, a home warmly lit and scented with spices and coffee, the schhhuuup of the frother matching my inhale. The volume of everything living had been turned down, as if the golden light shushes us low talkers into meditative listening.  We are here to read.

And I become a bee.  The pollen seeking begins.  Odd contrasts bring me to myopic inspection and I land on something unexpected.  A case for negative thinking appears among the positive psychology books.  This wry kind of humor is the edge that delights.  It reminds me of my love for Richard, who would have written such a book, given more free time.

Can negative thinking bring us to joy?

Example from the book: A bear pops out of the woods on the trail you are hiking. Be happy or get mad?

Get a little mad, be firm, and talk to the bear as if you are the boss of this universe.

Your joyful reward?  Passage.  Freedom to keep hiking.  An intact, uninjured body and the sudden miracle of that.

Joy was in this new awareness…hey! I have this fleshy body with skin holding everything in, and isn’t this the most amazing and wonderous miracle?

I didn’t get that joy from thinking happy. I got it from being pissed off to be interupted so rudely. Get off my trail, bear. You didn’t cut down this section of brush.

After that, the titles didn’t seem to interest me much. It was time to go back out into the fresh gray afternoon, where the wind found my face, rushing in to kiss it. A little hungry, I looked for a place to eat.  A man inside the sandwich shop told me his favorite uncle just died and he was heartbroken. I wanted to tell him that I related to grief, about how going back into the world of people and work was such a surreal detatched experience, and that my body felt as if I were walking underwater.  I may have said a few comforting words, then took my sandwich back outside, a little less bouncy, a little heavier with feeling. But the wind pushed, and I heeded her swift call.