Head from the clouds

When you’re inland, mountains to your north, long trailing foothills to your south, and stretches of interstate to your east and west, your view of the world is as through a prism of possibility. The wild mountains with flora and fauna of marvelous inspiration offer a sense of natural unknown. The foothills lead through hill and dale to an inevitable oceanic terminus, wondrous confinement. The interstates lead everywhere and nowhere in particular.

Such as it was Monday night when the remnants of yet another tropical event blew in on a gale of what seemed impossible strength. It had lost its true menace as it crossed through the wetlands of south Georgia. But still, as it whipped the trees in my little burg, it inspired a sense of some awe, like watching an aging prize fighter’s roundhouse in perfect form.

When it’s windy out, or blowing with tropical power, I like to sit on the second floor of my house. The view is not great, but the limbs of the tall Sweetgum and frail Bradford Pear knock the side of the house. The vinyl siding offers a bit of a whistle that makes the weather sound a little tougher than it really is.

So, there I sat in a chair with too little padding, and listened. Something was happening in my head. The kid slept. The wife slept. The dog slept. I tried to write. I tried to play my little game. I couldn’t concentrate.

Rhythms have been poking their way inside my head recently. If I can’t find some good diggy-diggy music to keep my head straight, I find myself creating them with my hands, feet, or voice. Usually when this happens, I find myself in the middle of a mental move, a seismic shift in the old noodle. It’s disarming and disabling at the same time.

It’s around these times that I become increasingly unproductive in my professional life. Like a graduating senior or man on the verge of retirement, I cannot motivate myself to consider the task at hand.

Take, for instance, this very moment. I’ve been working all day with precious little progress toward the ultimate goal of actually producing something. Instead, Sam Bush diggy-diggies out of my computer speakers (if you don’t know Sam, you’re missing out…even–or perhaps, especially–the heads among you). I’m blogging with no real focus, but a sense that if I don’t write something, I may, in fact, explode. I occasionally will minimize the blogging screen and focus for a moment on the work at hand, but it rarely lasts for longer than ten minutes. I’m counting on my co-workers who read this to keep my little secret.

It could be the same affliction that seems to strike me once or twice a year. When the Lake Eden Arts Festival (aka LEAF) comes around, I find myself thinking more about sitting at the mainstage or by the lake, a drink in hand, and an unexplainable sense of peace. LEAF is now two weeks away and in my head I’m already hearing the music across the water. I’m feeling the chill of a mountain October, bundled up at the poetry tent, burning up in Eden Hall, or…otherwise…at the drum circle at 2am.

But, again, that’s a couple of weeks away.

Is it hope I feel? I think it may be. Parenthood is taking a turn toward something close to understandable, my professional life may have a new possibility in the coming weeks, my sense of self seems to be re-forming.

More than anything, though, it’s a rhythm, pulsing through my noodle. It’s a beat of optimism and new breath.

Let it continue, because I think I like it.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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