It was late Saturday night, and I was dredging up the remains of a day in search of something to fall asleep to. Sometimes a dream can give you the thing you’re searching for in your writing, the thing your waking hours won’t give you. That was my hope, at least.
I had put the lap top away for the evening, having gotten nowhere with the words. Every birth of a great idea had gone stillborn under serious interrogation. Some days are like that.
The day before had been good to me. I had chiseled countless pages down to one. One good page. If you’re a writer, you understand the satisfaction that comes with one good page. The process consumes your day, literally. Inside the hours you experience joy, loss, discovery, frustration, anxiety, confidence, doubt, patience, anger, confusion, love, respect, wonder, fear, inspiration and hope.
Hope is the come hither curse for every writer.
So there I was, staring at the highlights of the greatest game ever played between Auburn and Alabama with the sound down, my bottle of Sam keeping me company. My phone buzzed with a text message.
Did you hear about Paul Walker?
He died in a car accident about an hour from here
I turned off the TV and called my friend, who’s staying in Anaheim. She’s visiting her daughter and they had just gotten back from a day with the kids at Disneyland when they heard the news. I wanted the details to come from her, from a friend.
“He had just left a charity event . .” She told me.
“How old was he?” I asked.
“Yeah . . I know.”
We tended to the muddled disbelief of another young talent gone much too soon for a couple minutes before I let her go and crawled into bed.
I left the light on, because the dark is a fear I have carried from childhood. I manage it just fine, most of the time. Bad news is what scares me back in time, to that boy and to those fears of the things I do not know.
And there I was on Saturday night, wondering about the things I do not know while trying to focus on the things I do. But it’s hard when you’re dwelling on a life taken well before his time. It’s impossible to believe that such a talent never gets to show us everything he had. It’s numbing to realize that such a good soul never gets to give the world more of it. It’s a theft of the very worst kind, and while these crimes happen every day and far too much, this one seems impossible because we always believe the storybook characters are bulletproof. Until we learn otherwise. Until life lets us know this ain’t the movies.
I thought on the character in my story and his place of birth, and I wondered if I might be able to change it. To Glendale. To the place where Paul Walker was born. Of all the things I can’t control, this one I might. And I thought on this, and I thought on bringing the laptop back to life and seeing how much of the darkness I could chase away. But I stayed put, thinking away the silence into something more. And then I thought on the tagline from Hours- one of Walker’s last films- and it seemed eerily prescient yet important as hell.
Every second counts.