The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

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By Forrest Hershberger
View from the Handlebars 

Staring at a Blank Page


I’ve been looking at this page for what seems like hours and no words are magically appearing.

Oddly enough it reminds me of some quotes attributed to different know cycling racers. Example: It doesn’t matter if you ride slow or fast, a long distance or short, just ride.”

I’ve heard, and experienced, that some writing requires priming the pump. Write even when its unrelated; just write and soon the creative juices will flow and you will get to what you want to say. Writing is a discipline that has odd parallels to athletics. For many sports, fans sit in their seats with a coleslaw covered link in one hand and a brew in the other quietly making bets on who will complete the play, based on size and physical prowess.

Strangely enough coaches and trainers will tell athletes the game is more mental than physical. If you’re willing to push yourself hard enough, you’ll get the play done and worry about the pain and muscle aches later. Most of those aches and pains, of youth anyway, are almost a reward during the moments after a successful play. That’s probably where the “walk it off” phrase comes from; feel the pain from going 110 percent and core muscles wanting to be pulled from the game at 93 percent.

That equation changes as the body gets older and screams louder at 80-90 percent, increasingly lower. Just sayin’.

I remember a comic in the college newspaper. It was a story of two roommates who were one minute “The Odd Couple” and the next Bill and Ted on a college adventure. In this particular day, the author drew both as similar degrees of frustration. Roommate No. 1 asks the other “what’s the matter?” Response: “Writer’s block. What’s wrong with you?” Roommate No. 1: “I’m in love.” Suddenly Roommate No. 1 is banging on the keyboard like he had a bestseller in the works. Roommate No. 2 is still dazzled and confused.

Maybe the real adventure in life is exploring, see what is within the apparent lack of color. What if there is a positive side to Nietzsche’s “stare at the abyss long enough, the abyss stares at you.” Search the empty sky long enough and you will start telling your story.

Part of that would have to be admitting the sky really isn’t empty anymore than the landscape on a quiet ride. There is what you see, and there is what you are not close enough, or relaxed enough, to see.

Stand and look at a specific point in the room or on the horizon. Then take a step back, then another, and so on.

The further back you step, the more your peripheral vision fills in the details. You’re not seeing just a spot on the wall. You’re also seeing the color of the wall, the pictures hung, the light from the window.

The opposite is also true. Back to the ride. When the sun is up and the clouds are lazy at best, a county road offers many sites, everything from a spooked herd of cattle (story for another time) or antelope, to farm life taking place. From a distance that one calf on the side of the road appears lost in search of the pack, when the other 10 spring from the tall grasses on the other side of the fence as you get closer.

Both perspectives have value. Both are worth the moment. The distance traveled changes how you see a particular point, but it also offers more points on the horizon to consider. Each one is a matter of perspective that changes with the distance from the subject.

So what’s the point? Maybe there isn’t one. Or maybe, it is about staying alert and don’t settle for the blandness of life.


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