Chasing Threads of Light


Invariably, my best words and phrases come to me in those fuzzy early morning minutes right before my alarm clock goes off.  My mind produces really good stuff then.  When I’m showered, dressed, and fully caffeinated I produce things like “she turned over in the large bed, gazed out through the dirty window glass and wondered if today would be the day she solved the mystery of her existence…”


I know there must be a machine out there – I think I’ve actually read about it – where you hook yourself up and the machine records (in writing?) every thought that pops into your brain.  This would be exceedingly useful to us writers whose best work is done before our bodies are fully able to sit up and write the gems down.  So many people proselytize about keeping notebooks by the bed but honestly, even if I did, I don’t think I could write fast enough.  It would be like taking dictation from Robin Williams…on speed. I lie there amazed every morning at the speed at which my mind spits out ideas, sentences, and sometimes entire paragraphs.  Some of it is quite good. These gifts are long gone by the time I fully wake up.  Sometimes I try.  I scurry, I rush.  I sit panting over a notebook, clutching a pen, eyes scrunched closed; at best, I capture a word or two.  Never a whole thread of light.

So I would gladly hook myself up with electrodes and multi-coloured wiring every night to employ such a device.  Does that make me lazy?  Am I trying to spare myself the routine of rolling up my sleeves and digging deep every day?  I don’t think so – not entirely.

If these elusive threads were just a word here or a word there, it wouldn’t be so frustrating but sometimes entire paragraphs float by on an invisible breeze.  I had one just yesterday but because I was in a hurry and had to get out the door, I couldn’t even attempt.  I remember it was deep, kind of sad – bittersweet? Nope, it’s long gone.

Sometimes, there are no words.  Sometimes I wake up (or part of me does) and I smell something.  The other day the scent of cedar wafted around me. Nothing in our house is made of cedar, there are no cedar closets, and no cedar trees nearby.  I lay in bed and wondered idly if I was having a stroke but then remembered that warning smell is burnt toast.  This was definitely cedar.

I love the smell of cedar.  It reminds me of an island I visited off the coast of Cannes when I was a teenager.  Cedar trees lined the shoreline where the boats from the mainland docked.  The whole island smelled of cedar and lavender; to this day, those are two of my favourite scents.  Cedar also reminds me of a scary cedar forest I drove through once above Fernie, British Columbia.  The whole place was like a Brothers Grimm fairy tale where things go badly for those who venture into the forest.

I’m fairly sure there were thoughts attached to the smell of cedar the other morning but they were either buried too deep or flew through too fast.  Wouldn’t it be fun to capture the threads of light before they dissolved back into the dark recesses of my scattered little brain?


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