Monday, September 20, 2010

I'll take some instant inspiration, please

My daughter and I had just enjoyed a wonderful morning. We went to church, then visited the local farmers' market. On the way home, I came to some construction where the road narrowed down to one lane. I hit my left turn signal, the light turned green, and I pulled forward a little, waiting for the oncoming traffic to pass.

Behind me, a driver hit his horn as though his life depended on it. Long and loud that horn sounded, as the driver angrily waited for me to make my left turn.

My daughter was startled. "What's wrong with him?" she said anxiously.

I bit back the first reply that came to mind, which likely would have been along the lines of, "He's a jackass." Instead I just shrugged. "I guess he's just impatient."

We turned, he zipped forward, and life went on. But I kept thinking about that guy - and others like him - as the day went on. Coincidentally, or maybe not, I heard a lot of horns that day. Maybe I was just around a lot of impatient drivers. Or maybe we've all just lost the virtue of patience.

Oh, not just in driving. That's just part of it. But everything arrives in seconds these days - we expect it. We feel we're entitled to it. I've read several books lately by authors I used to really like, and I was sorely disappointed by their last works. I have to wonder - were they forced to work faster? Did they feel they had to? Did their contract require it? Or did they feel like their readers would forget them if they took too long?

I sat down to write the other night, hoping to put together a short story. I had an idea in my head, a vague outline, but I just couldn't figure out where it would take me. I tapped the keys a few times, created a tentative lead and put together a few paragraphs. But I quickly grew frustrated, impatient with my sluggish pace. I decided to do a few chores and come back later.

A glance at the kitchen clock surprised me. I'd given myself just over a half hour. It felt so much longer. With today's constantly frenetic pace, it's so hard to slow down and give our imaginations a chance. Some days, it's nearly impossible.

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