|"Moon, Lake, Stars", oil, by Tom Brown|
“Ties and ballasts leave me, my elbows rest in sea-gaps, I skirt sierras, my palms cover continents, I am afoot with my vision.”
-- Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”
As the years pass, Ive been getting more and more use out of the magnificent gift of imagination, and now, in my 70’s, I often feel like I’m “afoot with my vision” in this sweeping and lavish universe. My body must make do with wherever it happens to be, but my real life -- my inner life where imagination manages things -- can let loose at any time and rove freely among far-off stars. You might see me sitting on a couch with a cup of coffee, but as surely as I’m sipping the coffee, I’m probably also footloose and free in a universe with no borders. My body might be in a place named Mystic, but my spirit might easily be soaring across cities and hills to any place I pick. Someone might say, “Yes, but you’re really just in Mystic”, but that would be saying that my seasoned, somewhat shriveled body is stronger and more important than my limber, fresh-faced imagination. Who is me -- my body with its confines and manifold failings, or my mind that’s made for freewheeling, limitless travel? What will last longer -- this body that’s been slowly diminishing and slumping for the last few years, or this mind I’ve been given that seems to grow fresher and more fervent each day -- this mind that has been spreading itself, through its thoughts, into the swelling universe for 71 years? Just in these past few minutes, sitting at this table and typing, I’ve been in St. Louis with my brothers and sisters, at the seaside on a summer morning, and out among the stars and the silver moon I saw above our house last week. With travel of this kind so easily accessible, who needs cars and trains and planes?