Thursday, June 26, 2014

Finding My Source ... by Dean K. Miller

Windswept pastures. A small farm lake, crinkled by the mistrals of spring. Alabaster clouds, tinged ashen–pregnant with rain– scuttle southward, low overhead. The air smells of color, choices, and freedom; aerosol sprays will never match it. Nature trumps science. Always. That’s why I’m here.

I will fish. That is certain, and also, secondary. Bull frogs croak a serenade–unending, soothing. For more than 100 years they have sung their songs here. Their cadence settles my heart. I exhale with the clouds. The words will come. I feel it. There is no choice in the matter. The voices are here and will be heard.

A cannonade rumbles in the distance . . . non-threatening, a proximity statement. The frogs pause . . . tonight’s opera a shared performance. The thunder retreats. The amphibian chorus resumes.

The rituals of fly fishing, much like those of writing, are replayed. The sequence never broken. Reel to rod; line through guides; flies to line; waders then boots; a prayer of thanks; an inward smile; the heart opens to life and stories.

My first few casts are spastic, unorganized; as my first few sentences always seem to be. I notice the bull frogs have gone silent. A gust of wind disrupts the flow, then wanes. I place my hand over my chest and feel my heartbeat taper. This is my pace for casting and why I am here; to feel the synchronicity of life and its words.

Unmeasured time passes. I am flushed with words, sentences, stories, ideas. Whose voice do I hear? Mine? Others? I continue to cast, knowing that if I stop, my receptiveness to that around me will recede. All is internalized. There is no need for pen and paper now. My cathartic response allows me to capture the narrative deep in my bones. As rain begins to fall, the drops pelt the wide brim of my hat, sounding like the tapping of keys on my computer, reminding me my goal will be achieved.

The rain stops, then restarts as the wind dies down. I continue to cast, pause, and then strip in line . . . meditation in nature. The bull frogs bellow in rhythm, keeping pace. How do they know? The setting sun cannot penetrate the cloud cover, but I know its beauty is there: unseen, but shining still, patiently waiting. It reminds me of the first draft of my novel that lays in a drawer, on hold.

A bolt of lightning flashes too close for comfort. The thunder rattles my core. I retreat to my car, shed my vest and waders, rod laid carefully inside. My writing bag sits on the front seat. I slide behind the steering wheel, closing the door as a downpour pelts the landscape. I’m sitting inside a drum and still the voices are heard. I continue to write as darkness swallows the panorama.

I fish to return to my source. I write, because I must. There is no other way.


Dean will be giving away a copy of And Then I Smiled to one U.S. or Canada resident who leaves a comment on this post by midnight Mountain Time Friday, June 27th. The winner will be announced here on Saturday.

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Dean K. Miller is a freelance writer and member of Northern Colorado Writers. His work has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Parenthood, TROUT magazine, Torrid Literature Journal and other literary magazines. His essays won three separate contests at Midlife Collage. His first book, And Then I Smiled: Reflections on a Life Not Yet Complete was released in February 2014.

For 26 years, Miller has kept the skies safe as an air traffic controller for the FAA and received the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) Northwest Mountain Region 2010 Archie League Safety Award. In his spare time, he enjoys fly fishing and he is an avid supporter and volunteer for the veteran’s support group Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. He lives in Colorado with his wife, Laura and their two dogs, Bear and Snickers.

Learn more about Dean at his website. He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

26 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Already have his book, so don't enter me.
I use my guitar playing in much the same way, Dean. That's my source.

Dean K Miller said...

Alex: I never took the time to learn a musical instrument, but it may be time to do so. Music is the other path to my source.

RichardK said...

Dean, your essay was thoroughly poetic and inspirational. It shows that story ideas come from many sources. Your book details that truly.

That was the serious part. Now the funny:

Dean, I get my ideas sitting on the toilet.

Begin laughter.

Dean K Miller said...

Richard: I can't laugh at the truth, even when it's yours! Thanks for stopping by. Now, go sit down and get busy.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Rich's comment immediately brought Rodin's "The Thinker" to mind.

John Paul McKinney said...

Pat, Thanks for hosting Dean (or is it "post-hosting?" Sounds like a cereal). Anyhow, thanks.
Dean, Don't enter me since I have a copy a signed copy. I get my inspiration either in a still woods or in a busy downtown street or airport; the woods for plot, setting and structure and the busy spots for characters. Thanks for the cool morning post.

Dean K Miller said...

Hi Pat and thanks for hosting me today. You know, I didn't "think" of that, but now that image of Rich, in that pose, on that porcelain seat, is burned into my mind.

Dean K Miller said...

JP: Morning and thanks for the cereal bites! I find characters in busy places, but seldom can put words to paper in those types of places. But I do jot down some notes.

Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you for allowing me to witness your muse at work.
Your words read like poetry.
Happy writing

Patricia Stoltey said...

My favorite idea incubator is my garden. Planting seeds, pulling weeds, harvesting--these activities are are calming and allow my mind to wander to all kinds of interesting places.

Kenneth W Harmon said...

Enjoyed your poetic post, Dean. I agree that nature is a great source of inspiration for writers. Good luck with the book. I look forward to reading your novel.
(Pat, I also have a signed copy of Dean's book, so you don't need to enter me in the drawing).

April Moore said...

Beautiful, Dean! I'm also lucky enough to have a signed copy of Dean's wonderful book.

cleemckenzie said...

Being alone, quiet and occupied with the rhythms of the surrounding world, is exactly right for those who put ideas into words. Beautifully written.

Dean K Miller said...

Leanne: Thanks for coming by and the nice words.. And for those still around, I'll be at Leanne's site in mid August!

Dean K Miller said...

C. Lee: Nice to see you follow the trail to Pat's site. Thanks for stopping by and the kind words.

Dean K Miller said...

Pat: Thanks again for having me over today. Gardening (not to be confused with yard work) are zen-like activities. Freeing that mind to be wild is important.

Also...to anyone who doesn't have my book and doesn't win one tomorrow, use this code WTFGMW5Y at this page: www.createspace.com/4644658 and you'll save 20@ of the cover price!

Dean K Miller said...

Kenneth: Thanks for the reminder of my "upcoming" novel. Yes, it's still resting...all these guest blogs and all!

April: Good morning and thanks for coming by. I look forward to your next book.

Sarah Reichert said...

Dean: This post was fantastic. It seems when we're quiet enough to hear our own heart beats (whether that be on the banks of a river or on...the commode a la Rich), that's when our brains reconnect to the truth inside. You painted this picture so beautifully. Thank you for posting. And thank you, Pat for hosting him. He's quite the amazing author, as are you. (I already have a signed copy of your book that I'm enjoying very much)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Love how Dean captures the feel of peace while he's fishing. Very lovely.

Dean K Miller said...

Hi Sarah. You are right and it doesn't matter where we are when we connect with our heart (and inspiration), it only matters that we do.

Dean K Miller said...

Susan: Thanks for stopping by here at Pat's blog. This trip was one of the few times I went to catch the moments of inspiration, purposefully. Usually, that blocks up my thoughts and mind to "come up with something." But this time, I stayed open to the world around and was able to find the world within.

Julie Musil said...

Dean, so beautiful. Nature inspires me as well. So do my teen sons.

Dean K Miller said...

Julie: thanks for hopping over! It is amazing to watch our kids grow and change. They are inspirational, indeed.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Dean and Patricia .. I can see why fishing pulls you to nature and that source of the fish themselves. Wonderful imagery of the river, and the waiting for the storm to take, knowing a pen and paper are waiting ..

Lovely and I know many who love the lure of a fishing time and space .. cheers Hilary

Misha Gericke said...

It's amazing how nature inspires us. :-)

Dean K Miller said...

Hi Misha and Hilary. Thanks for stopping by. I thought I posted a better reply earlier today but must have miss "clicked" to get here. Glad you both enjoyed the post.