Monday, January 29, 2007

Magic Happens

I've been immersing myself in my studies recently. The problem with PhD work, or at least my approach to it, is that you don't have any start or finish time and it seems to lend itself to a workaholic lifestyle. I always seem to be working, be it thinking through my ideas and arguments, rolling out of bed in the middle of the night to calibrate my simulations, or, the most time consuming activity of all - trying to avoid thinking about my work (aka procrastinating). It seems impossible to get anything done whilst procrastinating, except menial tasks such as cleaning. Any recreational reading or blog writing makes me feel guilty about the reading and writing I should be doing for my PhD work. And then there is the blog. I caught up with Meg at a gig on Friday and she was giving me grief about my lack of postings. So here is my recent effort:

Those who know me in the real world know that I grew up in a small town called Upwey on the outskirts of the Kingdom of Batmania. The town of Upwey was named after a town in Dorset, England, on the river Wey. Upwey is also half way up a hill, so I always thought that somebody had just misspelled directions to the town. I found out that the town of Upwey, on the river Wey, is somewhat famous for being home to an old pagan era wishing well (at least a contributor to the ever reliable Wikipedia thought so). Apparently, the well is the source of the Wey river. The water flows out of the well and fills the Wey valley. During the Victorian era people with paddle-wheel steamboats would use the river to transport important items, such as food and ice cream, to the township of Upwey and the surrounding region. Sometimes pirates would sail up the river and commit piracy on the paddle-wheel steamboats, presumably keeping the ice cream for themselves.

I remember, when I was a child travelling around the world with my parents, I visited this city which seemed to be all skyscrapers. I can't remember the name of the city - I must have been too young to remember things like that. For a brief period during the day, during the eleventh hour, the sun would rise above the skyscrapers and shine on the small park in the middle of the city. During this short period all the trees would blossom and the park would be filled with the bright colours that nature offers, contrasting the greys of the city. Unfortunately all the people who worked in the city didn't have their lunch break until noon, and so they never saw the park during this time.

In the middle of the park was a stone wishing well with a sign hanging over it which declared, to anyone who wasn't already in the know, that "Magic Happens". The people on their lunch break would sometimes throw coins into the well whilst making a wish and thinking about getting "Magic Happens" bumper stickers for their cars. I was lucky enough to visit the park during that brief period, during the eleventh hour. I looked down into the well, which was very dark, and wondered what was at the bottom. At some point a nice man walked by. It was the first time he'd seen the park during the eleventh hour because he'd only just quit his job, being of retirement age. He dropped a coin into the wishing well and made a wish, and then he gave me a coin so that I could also make a wish. I wished to know what was at the bottom of the well and dropped the coin.

The coin clattered down, bouncing off the walls. Before it hit the bottom, it was caught by a goblin. The goblin's name was Dorcas. It was Dorcas' job to organise the coins into categories based on the type of wish. There was a weekly pick up of the coins to take them onto the wishing factory, or some such place - Dorcas wasn't particularly concerned about that stuff. The room at the bottom of the well had shelves along all the walls with boxes to hold all the coins. Dorcas had become very cynical about the people who worked in the city, whose wishes were almost always selfish. People would often wish for things like their coins back, wanky bumper stickers, or to see such-and-such a person without their pants. There was a rather large cliche section for people who wished for things like world peace, or whatever was trendy at the particular time. At some time in the past Dorcas had been an elf. He had turned into a goblin due to the long hours he spent in the well getting cynical about people and spending all the time counting money. Elves are very receptive to their environment, so this type of Magic Happens often.

10 comments:

Cass said...

Where do you come up with this stuff? I love it!

Owen said...

Thanks Cass,
This story was the unlikely love child of my thoughts about the wishing well scene in film "The Goonies" (where Sean Astin makes some speech about it being "Our time...") and my PhD frustrations / blog guilt.

Dave said...

I want to thank you for all creative effort that goes into this blog O. Don't think of it as taking away time from your studies as it's nice to step back a little from reality. It keeps us from going crazy. As the saying goes; "Good things come to those that are patient" and your posts continue to prove it to be well worth the wait.

Owen said...

Thanks Dave, that's a wonderful complement.

Chandira said...

Magic does happen.. It happened to me today. :-)

Procrastination? I never do that. Honest. No, never at all, oh, where was I? Avoiding something I don't want to do at work today, oh yes.. OK.

Owen said...

Sometimes I feel as if two distinct parts of me are battling - the creative magic believer (child/old man) and the analytical scientist (goblin). Rather than resist these opposing urges, I hope to harness them to create something unique to me, such as this blog.

Meg said...

oh, so it was all a metaphor then... Ahhh... And so I see....

(P.S. It was just a passing comment about the blog. You didn't like, have to take it to heart or anything... JEEZ....)

x

Leighton said...

now that was a little nugget of magic realism that Marquez himself would have been proud of.
Kudos

Owen said...

Thanks Leighton,

I'm really glad you picked up on my intentions. I figured, considering my love of the style, that I should have a try at it. I seem to usually use some indicator in my writing to communicate to the reader that things are becoming fantastic - something I also love to do - it's kinda fun not worrying about that and trusting the reader distinguish between fact and fiction.

Now I feel a little silly for taking myself so seriously.

Chandira said...

Hey Owen, don't study too hard! I want a blog update.. ;-)