Chris Padilla/Blog / Books

The Blue of Distance

I think often about Rebecca Solnit's essay "The Blue of Distance". The full piece is linked there, and deserves a dedicated read for the beautiful illustrations on her theme. The core message is this:

We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on that something and how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the distance between us and the object of desire that fills the space in between with the blue of longing. I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation on its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance? If you can look across the distance without wanting to close it up, if you can own your longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue that can never be possessed? For something of this longing will, like the blue of distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them and the blue instead tints the next beyond. Somewhere in this is the mystery of why tragedies are more beautiful than comedies and why we take a huge pleasure in the sadness of certain songs and stories. Something is always far away.

Any creative practice is made all the more fulfilling because of this effect. What James P. Carse would call an infinite game, music and illustration and software and writing are all fulfilling because the horizon is always moving. There's not necessarily a mountain to climb so much as there are valleys to explore.

Funnily enough, it's easy to get caught up in reaching the destination anyway. Wanting to finish an album, wanting to be able to draw with a certain technique and style. That's not even considering the external factors - wanting to make X amount of money, have X followers.

After "having arrived" at a few intended destinations, I can wholeheartedly confirm that it's "being en route" that is life-giving.

Matt Hinsley in Form & Essence writes about "The Law of Dynamicism" The idea is that we are always stepping towards the horizon. Matt encapsulates how that distance energizes the work at hand:

I am working right now to write this book... In an earlier time I might have said something like, 'I can't wait to finish this book.'... But the reality is...that reality is. I will be then as I am now. Wherever I go, there I am. Today is my perfect day because I am thinking, learning, feeling, breathing, communicating, deepening. When this book is done, there will be another to write, or perhaps a different sort of adventure altogether. But what that is, is insignificant. It will be only another marker along the path in my lifetime of glorious dynamic consciousness.