From The Editor: So Happy Together
Taking a ‘whole-istic’ approach to the art of living
Is it possible to manifest a happening by reading about such a thing and visualizing it?
No question. Do so intensely enough, and you will be unable to separate yourself from the occurrence that you envision. It will happen. I frequented a gym
once where the bodybuilder in charge told me on Day 1 that the necessary first step in bringing about physical transformation is to visualize the desired
result. A day later, I removed a wad of gum from my mouth as I approached the gym and tossed it toward a trash barrel outside the front door, missing it.
“You forgot to visualize,” the coach said. Funny, he could be.
But I am speaking here to something serious, mystical and even disturbing, and lying far beyond trainer’s tricks or the tendency of some people to insist
that mere coincidences equate to meaningful synchronicity, destiny even.
This morning, I repaired to a crowded beach for a swim. While drying in the sun on my towel, I read a fiction piece by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh in The New
Yorker. It revolves around a young man who works as a receptionist/typist at an art gallery in Aspen. He is surrounded by the work of abstractionists, and
before long, he begins to view the world and himself through an abstractionist lens. The art becomes his reality, and he is reduced to his own “component
parts.” He is un-whole.
I was, by the way, the only person on the beach reading a hard copy of anything. Vapers, though, were countless, and tattooed ladies outnumbered those
without body art. These are no ordinary troubles we have embarked upon.
This disconnectedness and unwholeness that Sayrafiezadeh suggests is at a less than far remove from the notion of “having a wreck with yourself” that the
poet Barbara Hamby, who made an appearance in the July/ August edition of Tallahassee Magazine, has written about. Her poem on the subject of
selfimposed calamity hung about me for weeks, caused me to recall past mess-ups and created in me the eerie sensation that I was due for another.
Then it happened. After a day spent unexpectedly catching tarpon, I rinsed off my boat in my driveway and then went to back it into the garage as I had
countless times before. A wet flip-flop slipped from the brake to the accelerator and I punched a hole in the garage wall.
Quite fortunately, I hit a spot located between studs.
This is the kind of episode one turns over in his mind many times and that may lead to a meeting with a skilled young drywaller, whom I would recommend to anybody. In an effort to make myself feel better, I blamed the accident on the Hamby poem and inevitable manifestation resulting from too
precise visualization. And, I reached out to an old English professor of mine, knowing that he would be good for consolation — “Oh, I’ve done a lot worse
than that,” he was sure to say. I was a student at a small school in northernmost Wisconsin when the professor led me through a class on Renaissance
poetry and another on Ernest Hemingway.
I once announced to him that I was working on a collapsible icefishing shanty. “Everything I build is collapsible,” he said. We hunted ducks together once
from a canoe — what could possibly go wrong? — and I knocked down only slow, fish-eating ducks, worthless as table fare, and he fired at more desirable
ducks without success. “You’ve got the mullies, and I’ve got the mergansers,” I said. He’s never forgotten that. Neither of us was likely to harvest a wood
duck or a bufflehead or even a teal or a mallard and had become so accustomed to not doing so that we failed, I’m sure, to visualize such an outcome.
At the beach this morning, I proceeded down the dune walkover to the sand with an abundance of caution. Its planks are made from recycled
plastic, and invariably, they are coated in a layer of finely grained sand. The effect is that of a dance floor sprinkled with sawdust. There are weathered,
real-wood handrails along the walkover, but they are collections of splinters, really, and best avoided.
I made a point of seeing myself making it to the beach uninjured and intact, not a jangle of component parts.
Look on the bright side,
Steve Bornhoft, Executive Editor