My name is Travis Duncan and I was trained as a civil engineer – not exactly the most creative of outlets. I have always enjoyed writing. The process of taking the free flow of thoughts racing around your head and putting them to the page can be part physical, part mental, and part creative. I, like many others I assume, have struggled with making the words on the page sound like those in my head, or even those that come out of my mouth. But during that struggle to bring some sense of order to the chaos of my thoughts, I may get one sentence, or one word just right. Perfection may be unattainable, but once in awhile you just get lucky.
Today is Sunday, the day before the start of the spring quarter. This is the first entry in a journal of sorts that I will be keeping for the next ten weeks, during which every week I will be writing one piece. Some of them will be funny (hopefully!), some of them will be on hot topics of the moment (the somewhat legendary Interpersonal Dynamics class comes to mind), and others will tend to the more philosophical.
The purpose? Somewhat nobly: to write more. I find myself reading hundreds of pages a week: absorbing business cases, strategic plans, and more than occasionally sports blogs. Very rarely do I put unpolished ideas on paper, particularly those that are self-directed in nature. The goal of the next ten weeks is to build a habit – of thinking more broadly, and remembering (and hopefully communicating to) the wide world outside the confines of the classrooms I currently inhabit.
The first thing I ever wrote that I remember really liking was a poem for an elementary school class. Entitled Uncle Jim, it was a reflection on a man who died young, was one of the few people in my family who enjoyed the outdoors, and tried to share that sense of adventure with me. As a reminder, and as a potential source of inspiration I have dug it up.
Slowly, I walked down the broad crested, green grassy hill,
Silently, I approached the glossy blue Lake Mahopac.
There upon a rickety brown wooden dock sat Jim,
With his large oversized brown boots
And a light brown beard shading his face from view.
Hands waving, he stood and slowly sauntered toward me.
As is the custom, we exchanged handshakes and hellos.
Without muttering a word, he told me what I had anticipated.
We were to go fishing on the glistening crystal blue lake.
In my silence, I was leaping with joy.
Rods in hand we approached the edge of the shaky wooden dock.
Jim bait, cast, and waited all in one movement, with a sense of elegance.
Not, but twenty seconds later my line took off into the center of the lake.
I held on, but I knew I stood no chance against this force.
Vigilantly, Jim took the reel from my hands
And began the electrifying process of reeling in.
Reeling hands have never gone so swift.
With the utmost care, Jim withdrew the fish
And laid it gently on the wooden plank.
What a beauty it was, glistening in the bright sunlight.
Flipping, flopping, and floundering at our feet, like a wounded animal.
What a pity it would be to let it waste away,
Debatingly, he cast it back into the lake from which it came.
So, thus I remember Jim.
In Loving Memory
Jim was not an overtly great man. Likely left unnamed in the annals of history, he is likely to be forgotten except by those who loved him. Is this sad? Objectively, this feels like a relative drop in the great ocean of despair. Subjectively, I suppose it depends. Jim’s life came to a close before I really knew him; I do not know if he would look back on his life with a smile or a sneer. Perhaps I should say, this is one of my fears: dissatisfaction with the short time you have before handing back your consciousness.
TD // 3/27/16