I’ve always loved a good quote. As a kid my favorite part of Reader’s Digest was Quotable Quotes. I compiled lists of my favorites and typed them up, and one year in high school I wrote them all over the blank pages of my yearbook where people were supposed to sign. Leaving space for signatures, of course. It was actually kind of original; people could pick a quote they liked and sign under it.
Yesterday I posted my favorite poem (a copy of which is on my desk so I can stop and read it once in a while and sigh). Today I was making a cup of tea, and I love Celestial Seasonings tea boxes because they sprinkle quotes all over the place. The one that stood out for me was by William James:
“I have often thought the best way to define a man’s character would be to seek out the particular mental or moral attitude in which, when it comes upon him, he felt himself most deeply and intensely active and alive. At such moments there is a voice inside which speaks and says, ‘This is the real me!'”
This jumped out at me because that’s how I’m writing Paul in “Release Point”. He felt that way about baseball until he met Grace, and being with her (and protecting her from her past) made him feel more real than anything else in his life. I have those feelings too, once in a while but mostly when I’m pouring my heart into a story. I don’t know why. I was a typical kid; I played make-believe and I had friends and we rode bikes and played baseball. Why is it that I feel the most real when I’m playing with events that never really happened? Or maybe the question is more like, why doesn’t everyone?
I admire creative people. I’d love to be able to listen to a dishwasher and hear the backbeat to a song, or look at the world around me and envision a painting. I can’t do that to save my life. I can barely eat out at a restaurant and discern which spices and flavorings made the food taste particularly good so that I can reproduce that experience at home. (Half the time I’m lucky I don’t poison anyone.) But sometimes I’ll hear something, see something, feel something, and it makes me think, “Hey, what if…?” and off I go. Next thing you know, I’m writing notes on any scrap of paper I can lay my hands on, and I’m loving every blessed minute of it.
Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” He also said, “Half this game is 90% mental.” I could read Yogi quotes all day long and never get tired of it.