On Friday I took an airplane down to NJ to meet up with DH and the Bean who'd gone on ahead (the prospect of a 7 hour car ride with toddler suddenly overwhelming after a long week of six year olds.) The plane took off through a partial cloudcover just after sunset, and as we lifted above the ash and indigo clouds, the atmosphere above was smudged with vibrant orange, fading to pale yellow, and then to a hundred delicate shades of blue each growing darker as the vast distance of space increased.
Looking out the window, feeling the odd weight of my body pressing back into the seat, bucking gravity for liftoff, I was struck by how miraculous it is that as humans, we've grown used to this. To flying, miles above the earth. To this view above the clouds. Something about it still feels risky to me; I can't help thinking of Icarus falling in flight away from the heat of the sun. It will always feel brave and terrifying to me, to lift off the ground inside a metal jet. To fly without wings, trusting aerodynamics to lift the weight of steel and small human life into the air.
I brought the newest Elle and Vanity Fair magazines to leaf through on the plane, and spent the flight skimmingt through the pages of models with smokey eyes and skinny jeans, to linger over the book reviews and essays. This happens to me sometimes. This sudden thirsting for stuff beyond the parentheses of my small world.
It's a feeling that almost leaves me breathless. A craving. An intense realization that I am somehow parched for culture, for books, for time to delve into novels, read book reviews, attend theater, re-learn the myths of our culture, or wander through galleries. Without intention, my life grows narrow. I stop moving beyond the vocabulary of everyday. I stop pounding on the window that defines my view. And then, suddenly, like then on the plane, I run smack into my narrow vantage point.
All of the morning poems I've been writing this month have acted as a catalyst for this, I'm sure. They've stirred up something deep in me; made me reflect on the gaps I have in my ability to construct metaphors that matter, or to encapsulate with precise langauge, a specific circumstance or emotion.
The thing is, I'm not sure how to get beyond where I'm at. I'm not sure how to pick up a rock and throw it into the window. Not sure even, what the window or rock look like any more. But if giving ten haphazard minutes poems every morning has changed me, I can gather the same courage to toss myself towards books again, towards learning.
So what I want from you is this: what writers, or poets, or artists or films have had a lasting impact on the way you think and live your life? Name five.