I've spent well over 15 years living in the Buffalo area now. I moved into a little apartment in the city with my best friend when I was 20, and have since lived in two different suburbs. I used to work in Williamsville and now downtown. So the paths I trace in my daily commute have shifted around the area. And in my comings and goings to social events, races and work functions over this expanse of time, I've explored most sections of this area to some extent.
I've always found it interesting how, when you are familiar with an area, you still aren't sure how everything connects until you've seen all of the parts. There may be an entry ramp you've driven by thousands of times, but you never knew where all those people funneling into your partially shared commute were coming from until suddenly, a trip takes you out of your usual course one day and you find that you yourself are one of those people traveling that hitherto unknown path. There is a moment of delight upon realizing that you've made a new connection, that the map in your brain has put a name to one more road. And sometimes making a single small connection of that sort results in linking up two well-known areas in your mind and thereby seeming to double the size of the map. It is similar to what happens when we find the single piece of a jigsaw puzzle that links together two sections we had been working on as separate projects into a whole. That one small connection has a multiplying effect on our sense of mastery.
I am now in my late 30's and this seems to be a period in life where I have made enough small seemingly independent maps in my brain- mental representations, rubrics- that I have long labored over with the misconception that they were separate projects when in fact, they were different sections of a single geography. My small plodding work in separate endeavors are finding their linkages to one another in flashes of discovery which I find surprising and delightful. For instance, this blog has been a creative outlet, a side project, and the only thing I've felt I had enough time to work on in the way of creative writing. My running combines the need for a meditative state with the feeling of physical accomplishment. My job provides a whole host of satisfying experiences but mostly I enjoy the chance to put my writing to utilitarian ends and to be able to observe, from a wonderfully limited vantage point, the life stories of fascinating people from all over the world. All of this is fodder which provides me with creative material, and it is all coming together.
Goddamit, I need to write a novel. Shit.