The Dream

I've been meaning to do a post on Inception since I left the theater, still in a dream, with my imagination  more stimulated than it has been lately. It's been too long since I  saw a movie that affected me like this (since Avatar, to be exact)  and it's been too long since I've felt this creative, this hungry to  make things and do things, to craft worlds. With words.

I started to connect with the movie when Ellen Page's character, Ariadne, comes on the scene. She doesn't know  what she is  getting into when she starts dreaming, when she  starts to share  and create dreams with others. Watching the  world meld to her  mind right in front of her, I too found myself  realizing the  boundless possibilities in the sort of world you  create for  yourself. That is why I'm a writer...partially.

You see, it's all very well and good to create a world. You dwell in it, you enjoy the sheer brilliance of it, you then realize that you are alone in it. It needs something still, someone else.

I made dinner for my family tonight. My mom and brother have been dealing with some health restrictions lately and haven't been eating the way they normally do. They've been cooking for themselves, and not sharing in meals with the rest of the family. I love to cook, to create food, to pair things, not knowing if they will work, and find out that they do (or don't). But, as they haven't been eating with us, I've found my desire to cook fading. It's no fun when I'm not cooking for someone. But now the restrictions have lifted for my family and I made dinner tonight, suddenly stimulated with the desire to make something, to try something new. I made gnocci with tomatoes, fresh basil, kalamata and olive oil...and blue cheese crumbles (not my best idea). I bought fresh bread that crinkled as I squeezed it, and a bottle of raspberry vinegar for good measure. I came home from work and threw it all together (not the vinegar), sort of paying attention to my recipe and mostly just having fun and watching the cute little gnocci rise to the surface of my boiling water.

I've made better meals by far, but it wasn't about exactly how it tasted, it was about making food for people, inviting them to share in my dream.

I wrote a short story a year or two ago for a critique group. It was about coffee (surprise, surprise) and there were lots of lovely descriptions of handmade drinks. However, there was one drink that I made up, out of thin air. It sounded good at the time. Later, I got a call from a member of the critique group who took the story to a coffee shop and asked them to make it. He wanted to compliment me on my skills. Two other members ordered the drink as well and now order it routinely. They entered into the beauty that I imagined, making it into reality.

The next year, I wrote a story that was meant to be an experiential metaphor. It detailed a night on the town, in the bar scene, and a night of poor relational choices, back to back. My intention was to bring people into the story, so that they were not only observing what was happening from the outside, but experiencing it from the inside. When people told me that they felt drunk, or disoriented, I knew that I had succeeded.

This is good, this is fulfilling. This is why I write.

No post like this would be complete without referencing a concept from Harry Potter, the pensieve. When I read about it for the first time, I wanted to dive into the book and use it myself. A person could take memories from his or her mind and place them inside a bowl-like thing. Then, another person could experience them. I remember thinking, after the initial coolness had worn off, "wow, we wouldn't need writers anymore, would we?" Why would we need to craft reality with our words when everything could be transmitted, no effort required.

I love Inception because it reminds me of the beauty (and the danger) of creativity. It reminds me how easy it is to  get stuck in the  labyrinth, lost  for days, or  years, within  my own mind.  It also reminds  me of how  rewarding it  can be when  done well. For  that, I'm  inclined to  follow in God's  footsteps, and  rest from my creativity every so often.

Right now, I'm being creative on a lot of levels. At work, in the kitchen, I'm even writing a little poetry and getting ready to contribute some of my talents (such as they are) to my church. I remember reading in Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner (one of my good non-fiction friends) that the main commandment about keeping the Sabbath focused on ceasing to create. God rested from creation on the seventh day, so should we, I guess. That always bothered me, perhaps because I saw writing as my down time (and during school, often, it was) but that doesn't change the point. Creation is beautiful and worthwhile and productive and intuitive and lovely. And, as Inception reminds us: addictive and to be taken in moderation, along with every other good thing in life.

To make this sort of like a review, I'd recommend the movie wholeheartedly. It had me near tears, and unable to stop thinking.

Thanks for reading my musings. I'd love some interactions on this one.