Sometimes I probably find meaning in things that are more appropriately classified as coincidence. I also carry the idea of webbing (for you technical educators, “concept mapping, semantic mapping, whatever”) a little crazy sometimes. Let me explain:
1. Last summer I read a bunch of books. One of them, maybe it was Stephen King’s On Writing, although I can’t be sure, made mention of Tim O’Brien’s, The Things They Carried. I kept meaning to read the book, but never did.
2. Last month, I was reading an Australian newspaper from the 1930s and came across an article about a guy named Oscar Asche. He had been an actor of some renown and then an author of a book called the Joss Sticks of Chung. Not knowing anything about Mr. Asche or joss sticks, I did some reading which led to me writing a poem about Asche and the sticks.
3. One day at work, my normal printer was not working, so I walked to the school’s library to get finish the job. While I was waiting, I looked at books that the librarian had displayed atop the book cases and there was O’Brien’s book. Of course I had to check it out, but it sat in my office for a couple of weeks. That is, until today…
4. I was totally into the book even though I couldn’t find a link to Stephen King. The story also smashed right into a discussion I recently had with other writers about creative non-fiction and whether there really is such a thing. Near the end of the book, which may or may not be about the Vietnam war, there is a direct reference to a character taking “joss sticks” from villagers.
My mind was swirling the rest of the day. I call things like this “cosmic collisions.” I had to put the map together, which led to another map for a character I write about in this blog named, Rory. He’s a guy who is trying to make sense of things much in much the same way I try to find meaning in these random happenings.
Maybe it’s time for Rory (or me) to burn a little incense…