Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Following the bubbles

Posted on November 07, 2010 by jimparedes

Following the bubbles
HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated November 07, 2010 12:00 AM

Impulse is important. Following it can start you off in many directions. It is a spark that needs to happen if anything is to be done at all.

I have been impulsive a few times and it has led me to some good things. At 11, an older sister asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I answered, “Guitar.” I was really not thinking when I answered her, not in the way I would have thought out asking for, say, a tent or an air gun.

Normally, I would ask for something that I already liked or knew something about. A guitar was something that was cool. That was all. I wanted to be cool. I went on impulse.

It must have happened the same way when I woke up one day and thought to myself that I wanted to be a songwriter. It was a simple declaration. The next day, I attempted to write a song, and out came something fairly decent which got me so excited, it set me on my life path.

I also remember asking my girlfriend Lydia to marry me in an overseas call. We had known each other only seven months when she left for the US. After so many desperate exchanges of correspondence professing our undying love, I called her up and surprised her, and myself, by popping the question. When I thought about it later, it was not in my immediate conscious mind to ask her that. The desire may have been lurking somewhere and just suddenly bubbled up and took over during the call. And yet, when I asked her to marry me, I was sure it was what I wanted.

Impulse is desire unconsciously planned, but on some level, has been slowly hatching. We may not be consciously thinking about it, or at least it does not seem so. But somewhere inside us, there is a coming together of dreams, desires and visions that have been cooking in the cellar oven, way below the radar of everyday concerns. When the aroma of it wafts up to the upper chambers of our mind, we express a sudden desire for it, seemingly from out of the blue. And we are surprised since, although it may seem like the idea just popped into our heads, the schematic or “the plan” seems almost completely fleshed out when we express it.

Impulse is creativity expressed without having to defend itself in the court of rational thinking. It is the bright idea that suddenly lights up. One does not question it because to do so would extinguish it. One must go with it, even for a while, to see how far the light shines, or whether it is worth pursuing.

I imagine that abstract painters go through a series of creative impulses when making a painting. Does one deliberately think or rationalize what color, what line, shape or brush to start with? Or does one just start? What may seem like a series of random acts of madness has a method to it. Before one knows it, all the strokes come together to form a visual impact that moves both artist and the viewer in a certain way.

“The impulse to write a novel comes from a momentary unified vision of life,” wrote Sir Angus Frank Johnstone, author of The Wild Garden. Often, the writer’s day consists of simply writing. Often, it does not matter what you write but it matters that you simply write because somehow, by just doing it or even being close to one’s tools of the trade can help bubble up that “unified vision” that was already there but was just waiting for its time.

The writer has to be there when the book is written. And for the book to be written, the writer must be attentive to all the noises in his head, especially the ones that come from the cellar.My guitar is always in my room. Sometimes, it just lies there for days without my playing it, but it helps that I see it all the time. When the moment comes that a melody surfaces from the depths, I grab the guitar and use it to extract the song that’s been waiting to be expressed.

Impulses are not always pleasant. They can be incessant and demanding and they drive you to action. But impulse must be listened to. Can you imagine what the world would be like if people did not listen to the seemingly illogical or irrational “inner call,” the impulse to create, or pursue the itch that demands to be scratched? Darwin, Shakespeare, Picasso, et al would have been condemned to live dreary meaningless lives.

Should all impulses be listened to? There definitely is a dark side to all this. Nietzsche advised his readers to “distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful.”

The power of impulse is strong, and like a drug, it must be used with care and moderation.

So how does one know whether an impulse should be followed? The answer is, one doesn’t. My advice is to just do it and discover for yourself whether you were right or not. But one thing I can tell you is, the more you do it, the better you get at determining which ones to follow.

Lately, I’ve been writing songs for a new album. I notice how attuned I am to recognizing the little impulses that, when paid attention to, pay back big-time in terms of what they can become as created works in final form. They are like DNA — tiny, seemingly insignificant, but packing wallops of life forms when developed into full living things.

In the bigger scheme that is my life, I also notice that clearer sketches and lines of a “unified field of vision” are coming together now more than they did five years ago. My instincts about life’s rules, and how my particular life force actually plays out in this world, are becoming more familiar and obvious to me and I feel good about that. My comfort with this is not because I have less doubt about the outcome of any endeavor. Uncertainty still rules my life and I accept that. That is how it has always been and that’s how it will always be.

What gives me comfort and a sense of purpose is the knowledge that I must simply do what I am called to do. And that may not have anything at all to do with the outcome.

I simply follow the bubbles as they surface.

* * *

1) Photography Workshop in Dumaguete on Nov. 20. Meeting place at AVR-Grade School Dept. St Paul’s University. It will be from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fee includes lunch, certificate. Please call Chinky at 0916-4305626.

2) Advanced photo class in Manila on Nov. 13. This will be held outdoors. It’s a walking class. Venue to follow. Call 426-5375 or 0916-8554303 or write me at emailjimp@gmail.com.

3) Basic Photography Class on Nov. 27, 2010, Saturday from 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, QC. Cost is P3,500. Call 426-5375 or 0916-8554303 or write me at emailjimp@gmail.com.

Please visit http://jimparedes-workshops.wordpress.com for all workshop syllabi, schedules and details.

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