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A World in a Breath: The Little Things That Strike Root into a Story

One thunderbolt strikes root through everything

— Heraclitus

Imagine the primordial sea of this world, lifeless, without any attributes to sense itself, no eyes or gills to see and breathe it. Cataclysmic storms grow over this sea, unseen, unheard of and never forgotten, since there are no brains to remember. That lifeless sea laps away at the volcanic islands where it sinks into the stone, commingling the latent elements into a primal stew on the brink of something… (BOOM!) No sound, only the blinded deed… Lightning strikes a particular seed of an element in the ocean and the metamorphosis takes place, a little rearranging with a touch of magic, until that seed sprouts into something else, the beginning of the start of what will become lifeforms. Now, imagine this as your brain when an idea seems to spring from nothingness.

Nothing comes from nothing

— Parmenides and King Lear

Ideas often come from a seeming nothingness, a random congestion of drifting thoughts, not unlike unseen water molecules condensing into cumulus clouds that join together and build into a singular storm. A crystal clear sky becomes full, in an instant. Even if lightning strikes, the bolt of intention doesn’t necessarily find the critical element of world-building stuff. Luck is far more mighty and hard to come by than talent or will. Sometimes that critical element is nothing more than a passing glance of a nascent character, a flicker of light from a towering mushroom, the smell of death in the air where fantastical blossoms on the World Tree should only smell magnificent. A musician’s mastery lies in the chance that their fingers will fail or their chorus will miss a beat. Mistakes are often the mask that luck wears, a chance to break the rhythm of imagined certainty and fall headlong into discovery. What was a peerless warrior with gifts beyond reckoning suddenly looks at you and you see the weakness in her spirit, the rot infecting that realm-crushing sword arm. It’s the critical element that drifts along that ever-primordial ocean of the creator’s mind that shouldn’t be there, the anomaly, certain to fail, unless that lightning bolt finds it and reveals what it possesses, that something that nothing else in that ocean does: Vulnerability.

She pulled apart the leafy branches and saw…

— Unknown

It is the forbidden that is the beginning and end of creating. Rather than Original Sin, there was Original Choice, the choice to make oneself vulnerable, to leave the garden of routine and face the storm. Our minds are bottomless oceans, forever unknown, even if they’re explored to reaches and depths beyond knowing. To face that truth is to begin again, not every day, but every time we choose to search for those critical elements. The lightning bolts of our neurons firing away in the perpetual storm of our minds needs some kind of bearing, even if most strikes are misses. Even the blind and deaf storm must grope in the dark silence of our heads for a feeling of where that critical element might lie. The winds and the tides are against us, always. But when that galvanizing moment occurs, when the sacrificial element of Time does its work, then that glance or smell might breathe life into our creation. Even if it’s only a breath, life has found its way onto the blind and deaf page beneath our receiving eyes and ringing ears.

Hayden Moore

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