Friday, August 12, 2011

Vices, Inc.

It seems strange to consider writing a vice, but it may be my worst. Not that I’m out there doing a lot of things that would compete for the honor, but writing opens up doors that normally would stay tucked away in the recesses of my mind, in that dark, hidden chamber that no one is allowed to peek in. Including me. It stretches the proper limits of the imagination, after you reach the point of listening to the breeze flow through your head, the one that folds leaves in half and causes grass to bow down, then pop back up. The same imagination that paints a beautiful landscape in your mind, or a stark urban setting, then allows you to convey what you see on paper. While it’s a public vice if you choose to share the creativity, it’s still imaginary, isn’t it?

For me, photography has more sharply defined boundaries. There are some things I simply don’t photograph and never will. The visual of an image is more exploitive than words in some ways, but not necessarily as descriptive. Writing opens barriers of description to a new level for a good storyteller.

I do enjoy hiking and taking my camera gear along. That usually consists of two camera bodies and extra batters/memory cards. I enjoy creating a story with my camera, and then using my experiences to add description in my writing. We all see the world through our own lens, whether on a camera or not. That’s what comes out in our stories, both in speech and on paper.

So I suppose I do have some annoying habits. None of them bother me, but I get the feeling a few people don’t appreciate my thought patterns at times.

For one thing, I like to collect things, as long as it’s interesting and catches my eye. That could open the door for a lot of objects, but I stay with items like shells, driftwood, rocks, hornet’s nests, bird feathers, part of an old house, pine cones, and….you get the picture. Nothing of real monetary value, just things that are interesting and could possibly start a good conversation. I have bucketfuls of stuff tucked away at home, out of sight and out of mind, just waiting for a place to display it. I doubt I’ll ever have a place to display some of it, and when I pull it back out it will all seem new again.

And, I like old license plates. I’m not alone in this addiction, but I don’t pay much attention to the value. I like the different colors when they’re displayed in a garage or game room wall. I have one from the year I was born, and the year my wife was born, in the garage where our respective cars are parked. My tag in particular looks a bit rusty around the edges and is showing its age. It tells its own story.

I have, in the past, collected the following: baseball cards, signed racing posters, lightning bugs in jars, half dollars minted before 1965, car advertisements from dealerships, Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars, records, model cars, comic books, and stamps. Too bad I wasn’t at a collecting age when marbles were all the rage; I would have enjoyed all the different colors and patterns. When I was a kid someone gave me a leather pouch full of old, colorful marbles, but for some reason the habit never attached itself. And, my collection of car advertisements was so intense at an early age that each summer, when I visited my grandparents in Florida for a week or two, my parents would clean out the collection in my closet, leaving room for yet another fresh start.

These things may not qualify as vices to some, but they do annoy people. Quirky and aggravating are words I’ve heard. But, I need some room here. I hold off on the vices that would create uproar so that I can fit into a civilized society.

I suppose my writing is a necessary escape from the dreaded realities of life. It does keep the imagination alive, at least for another day. Maybe that’s what all of my annoying habits are, to a point. Something to reach for, a carrot dangling in front of me, a way to keep from being bored out of my mind. Without a project in front of me I’d be one restless collector of bad habits. Or vices, if you prefer.

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