Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Living Here and Now - Writing about the Past

Traveling, in time, in space, in your mind.

Lino-cut Tibetan Tiger Rug
Just before Chinese New Year I wrote a guest post for  writing-artist Rose Deniz's blog. Back in Turkey, after visiting her Midwest childhood home, Rose wrote about jet lag and living in present tense. Reading her post today I uncovered thoughts about my own sentiments in regards to living in the present while writing primarily about the past.

Some find an artist or writer's preoccupation with the past disconcerting. "You lose out on the present, if you think that much of what has been," they say.

There's no loss, only gain, I argue. Writing about things that may have happened in the past, making up details of my parents' romance, getting to know relatives I never knew; bringing to life grandmothers, aunts and uncles, cousins, their friends and even pets, using my own experience in the here and now, I'm constantly mixing my present tense life with what's remained behind, both in time and location.

That's the big picture.

In "Forgiveness" the novel, suitcases play an important role
Traveling to me always means my spirit either zips ahead of my physical being, part of me gone while I'm still saying goodbye to my present home and friends or lags behind. Returning from the old country, I need about three months to feel I'm really back. I cherish the mementos I carry back with me, newspapers and magazines in my native language, the books to be saved for last or later, so I can savor the flavor, aroma, and sounds of nostalgia.

What I like best about jet lag is being awake in the small hours, going to all-night diners, prolonging the feeling of being a traveler, on my way back or from a new or old place, my spirit dancing, free and unencumbered, testing me, treating me to that —in between time— where everyday routine is the element that's foreign, alien —not me.

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
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