A New Notebook for OGT

In this strange notebook, it is not quite clear where one should begin writing. The last page looks exactly the same as the first, and what’s in between is so empty, so vast, it is daunting at best and prohibitive at worst. Such emptiness can instill a fright so absolute that it has felled many more talented than me – and quite frankly that just means I have stupid, foolhardy, careless and crazy resilience. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. On this day, it has broken the blank page, as I sit in a piano bar in Ogunquit.

My writing, a somewhat anti-social activity that I will eventually put down in favor of conversation with a few new friends, is accompanied by the singing of a growing group of gentlemen and a few ladies, who gather around the piano and regale each other with Broadway classics and standard chestnuts that withstand the test of time. They sing of love and romance, of loss and grief, of times long gone and times yet to come.

I write in this simple notebook, and it suddenly strikes me as old-fashioned – because no one seems to write by hand anymore. People don’t even use full words, much less full sentences. It’s all acronyms and abbreviations, but I pine for the completeness of a phrase and a sentence, or the simple glory of a complete word, spelled out in its entirety, sprawling across the page, unfettered by character-limits or miniscule text screens.

My lament is interrupted by the growing crowd. In a few minutes, the spaced has filled up, and suddenly every table is full. People angle and vie for the next available spot in jovial spurts of polite anticipation. I put this notebook away and engage with those around me. There are too many ways of distancing ourselves from each other. Usually it’s on a smart phone, hunched over, head down, and oblivious to the world. I don’t like that. I want to lift my head to the lilacs, inhale the richness of the spring around us, or simply say hello to a friendly stranger.

Here, in Ogunquit, I tend to put the phone down. I return to pen and paper, or I simply take it all in. There is too much to experience – the sights, the sounds, the food – and every sense should be poised to take it all in.

Too often I find myself dulling my appreciation of these things by scrolling through my FaceBook feed or Tweeting out some nonsense while the world spins so gorgeously around me. In Maine, I get back to the real world, and its accompanying simplicity and joy.

As I walk back to the guest house, I take my time and examine all the flowers along the way. In the past, I used plants as guideposts, recalling where I needed to turn with a sweet stretch of honeysuckle or the fading leaves of a daffodil patch.

Lining the path to our home-away-from-home is a hedge of lilacs. They make a fine marker, their fragrance written in the sky.

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