Small rooms concentrate the mind

On a mild summer morning when the
birds were at their most cheerful I went for a walk back in time.   First I entered a museum, one I
had visited many times before.  This museum once housed Phar Lap, the stuffed wonder horse, the bones of gigantic
dinosaurs, and the skeletons of tiny marsupials.  But I had lost interest in these exhibits and longed to find
a new room within this many roomed museum.  Then I looked up. 
the ceiling was a man hole with a metal ladder held to the wall by brass
bolts.  There was no one was around
on this day in the museum of my mind so I decided to look further. 
say you should not climb ladders once you have passed the age of fifty but in
this museum age did not count. 
Anything was possible. 
Everything relied on luck and a certain state of mind that allowed the
viewer to see things with fresh eyes. 
I had not noticed this ladder before.  I had not looked up and seen the manhole in the ceiling
in any dream the ascent was easy. My feet did not falter even though in the
outer world I was wary of heights. 
The man hole lid lifted effortlessly at my touch.  I slid it to one side and poked my head
through the opening into darkness. 
Now was the time I should have turned back but something drove me
onwards and upwards into the roof cavity. 
knew from past experience to make my way along the rafters as if I were reading
Braille.  I knew from past
experience to avoid putting any weight on the plaster of the ceiling.  Like a trapeze artist I slid along the
beams, wishing myself weightless, which was not so difficult in the roof well
of my museum where anything was possible only everything remained in
darkness.  The faintest light shone
behind me from the man hole I had just entered but ahead of me black ink and no
was blind.  I could not see those
things around me whose shape might otherwise be visible to someone else with
sharp vision, but I was so locked inside myself that I could only see things as
I had seen them in the past.  No
new images entered my field of vision. 
I relied on my fingers and my sense of smell to continue along this
narrow and splintery beam careful to avoid the rough bits that might pierce my
has to happen I said to myself. 
But my optimism offered nothing in return.  Something good has to happen I reassured myself but still
nothing.  That is when I decided I
must wait.  It will come.  And when it does, I will know it by
sense alone and I will pounce. 

4 thoughts on “Small rooms concentrate the mind”

  1. This reminds me of the Dick Institute in Kilmarnock. When we were young and money was tight—far tighter than any of us kids realised—it was common to go on trips to places that were free and one of these was the Dick Institute. The building houses a small museum, art gallery and library including the first record library I’d ever encountered. We didn’t live in the local area but it was within travelling distance by public transport and so with the help of a local my dad knew it was possible for me to get a library ticket. For several years it became my regular habit to head off there on a Saturday afternoon to root out new musical treasures. They had a large selection of scores too, a whole bookcase full of them, and so it wasn’t unusual for me to pick an LP for which there was a score I could read along with. A few years back I bought a miniature score of Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony so I could relive the pleasure but the print was really too small for me now. I keep saying I’ll order a few full scores online but it seems a bit self-indulgent; they’ll be expensive and the money could be spent more wisely. I’ve always loved looking at musical scores. I think they’re beautiful and I’d have no problems framing a few sheets and sticking them on my wall.

    Actually I’ve just had a wee look at YouTube and it seems there’re quite a few animated scores to read along to. The ones with full orchestra are a bit hard on the eye but the chamber music works well as do the piano transcriptions, e.g. this one of Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro for Harp, Flute, Clarinet and String Quartet is a nice slow one to start off with if you’ve never read a score before. I’ll spend some more time on this later. Today I’m reading through the proof copy of Making Sense so I’ll be brief.

    The two things I remember most clearly about the museum were the insects and bugs—the butterflies especially—and the half a lion. It was the front half in a glass case wedged against a dividing wall. I kept expecting to see another glass case in the adjacent room with the rear end. Amazingly I’ve just found a picture online here; it’s a different lion and the case is fancier but the idea’s the same.

  2. I had the same anticipation when I went to the Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik
    Iceland. I floated quietly in the warm water with my eyes closed and waited for some kind of mystical insight to occur. When it didn't, I decided that I'm not receptive to whatever that might be–sorta spiritually retarded. Sadly, I don't have your hopefulness that it will ever happen. Sigh…

  3. You just described the creative process. The waiting can be maddening. To be within this safe place in your head searching and waiting, knowing there will be something soon to appear, is obviously as an artist, where you belong…

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