AM I PLAYING GOD?

© 2020  Bill Murphy

Writing is a more than a hobby with me, it’s a passion.  Writing is more than enjoyment, it’s therapeutic. It’s an expression and an extension of myself.  It’s a compulsion.

I feel a definite need to record memories of the past and of my childhood.  The present is built upon the past.  We should learn from the past, and understand not to repeat those same mistakes.  That’s one of the reasons I write on these things, it’s a mission.

But I receive my greatest enjoyment from writing fiction.  And this morning, after several hours of writing delight, I suddenly questioned my own glee in doing this.  I asked myself, “Why do I enjoy this so much?”

Memoirs are recollections of actual people, places, and things.  Fiction is writings about people, places, and things that are nothing more than the mental creations of the author.  Creation is the key word here.

My second question to myself was, “Am I playing God?”

I remember a movie from many years ago, in the heyday of Hollywood’s pre-Star wars and Rambo flicks, when Heracles, Atlas, and Zeus, reigned supreme.  The scene which made a lasting impression on me was of a gathering of the gods on high.  They were standing on a fluffy cloud, with a large circular cut-out in the center.  Surrounding this hole in the heavens, was a low marble wall.  The whole thing reminded me of a circular, backyard swimming pool.  The gods sat around on the edge of this opening, while peering down onto the earth below.  They got their jollies by slinging flaming bolts of lightning onto the hapless mortals below, just to watch them jump, and by releasing Minotaurs and Hydras to chase them into the hills.  These gods were at play, and their toys were folks like us.  Is my writing like this?  Am I ‘toying’ with ‘my creations?’

I don’t want to be God, or any god for that matter.  The Bible tells us that we should strive to be ‘Christlike,’ by my track record proves that I do a poor job of it.  So making a pretense of god-like-ness is not a consideration.  So, what is it that pulls me toward fiction?

I do admit to having an active and fertile imagination.  I always have and hope I always will.  My mother summed it up perfectly: “He plays well alone,” she said.

And, so far that is, my memory is fairly strong.  Couple this with coming from a large extended family (Mom was one of six and Dad one of thirteen), throw in the memories of all of those characters for a span of almost eighty years, and my brain has a wealth of subject material.  My creative juices, as far as writing goes, are blessed by streams and rivers of memories emptying into that ever growing lake.  Perhaps one day, as you read my musings, you may recognize a vague shadow of yourself.  Relax!  I seriously doubt that you’ll find any flaming lightning rods headed your way!

See ya between the pages!

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TEARS TO MY EYES

© 2020  Bill Murphy

The attached photograph was taken in the mid to late 1940s.  It was taken in my backyard on Evergreen, probably by my mother.  That’s me on the left: my cousin Terry Padgett in the center (about 3 years younger): and my cousin Pat Fairchild on the right (2 years older than me.)  I use this photo as an example to illustrate the following story.

This past Tuesday I made a mistake, and drove to my writer’s club meeting at 1:30, instead of the correct time of 6:30.  Oops!  So I decided to make the best of an ‘bad’ situation, and stopped by one of my nearby favorite local junk-tique stores. 

Once again, I didn’t find anything that I couldn’t live without, but I did walk and scan every aisle upstairs and down.  Just before leaving the store, I saw a small book on a table, a book that someone obviously, could live without.  The book measured about eight by twelve inches, and no more than a half inch thick.  PHOTOS in gold type was printed on the cover.  I couldn’t help but pick it up.

I looked at every page.

This was a photo album, a photographic record in black and white, of the warm and colorful life of a typical 1940s family.  Dress styles, hair styles, and automobiles gave away the dates of the photos.  I have no less than five similar albums among my family’s treasures.  And now this solitary book of family memories lay in a stranger’s hands, courtesy (or curse) of someone who could live without it.  It brought tears to my eyes.  I felt as though I was holding a sacred object, offered up as a sacrifice, on a sacrilegious altar. 

I came close to purchasing it, as if that purchase could/would right a wrong, and somehow restore this one-time treasure to it’s former valued status.  But as they say, life is life, what is, is… and nothing that I could do would bring joy, happiness, meaning and value back onto those smiling faces in the photographs.

Instead, I said a silent prayer for them, and walked away… as did the one who allowed this treasure to leave their hands.    

Call me a sentimental old fool… and I’ll answer.

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