Find The Willing

Find The Willing will be published in Ara’s 4th book, due in Martch 2018. Pre-order the book here: https://theliterateshow.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/accepting-pre-orders-on-my-4th-book/

 

 

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She Runs

She was a new car once. She was scrutinized, negotiated, fawned over, and loved. This gray Plymouth Valiant Signet was shiny, true and new, over fifty years ago. Today she runs as a beater on Manhattan Beach’s posh streets, the plaything of an uncautious man.

In 1963, she had a life, a function, and a family to carry to school. She took dad to work and mom to the grocery store. She won the Society of Illustrators’ Styling Award and was part of a record sales year.

The years ground on, the Sixties gave way to the Seventies and this special gray car discovered the road felt harder as she dried out and aged. Her owners waxed and then waned, died off or gave up caring very much. Today she just gets along, never bothered being locked, never bothered being stolen, gassed up for just a few dollars at a time, hasn’t seen a full tank since Nixon.

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Ara Hagopian’s third book is out now: http://www.LeavesOfYouth.com

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The Hook of Respective Longevity

On a short alley lot at Perkins Cove, Maine, a small hook holds a chain together. This metal forging is very old, perhaps older than seventy years. Today her job is lightweight duty; she keeps tourists off private property.

This old hook is retired; this was not her first calling. We may ask, what was her job of yesteryear? Was she fitted to a proud ship, worked by a crew who perhaps never gave thought to the concept of respective longevity?

I will be utilized so long as I’m useful. I can work if my construction exceeds my strain. I can outlast my creator if men take care of me. I can outlast Man if men need me.

A hundred years ago a metalsmith forged a hook and loop out of steel. He used the skills of his eyes, arms and hands to form her just so. He pulled the finished hook from the cooling water bucket, took off his gloves and held it in his hand. “You will outlast me,” he said to the beautifully-fashioned, warm-wet steel. “You’ll raise great nets of fish or carefully lower a ton of timber, and men will trust you with their lives. If they do their job, they know you will do yours.

“You’re two solid pounds and are vulnerable to being cut, thrown away, melted or otherwise destroyed,” he told his creation. “But you will succumb to none of those things. You will endure because you are useful. And only fools squander usefulness.”

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Ara Hagopian’s latest book: http://www.LeavesOfYouth.com

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The Family and the Empty Nester

This story will be published in my March 2018 book, details are here: https://theliterateshow.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/accepting-pre-orders-on-my-4th-book/

 

 

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Palnita, Art of the Ancient Americans

Palnita, Art of the Ancient Americans (pen and ink, 2011) is an abstract drawing inspired by the inhabitants of North America, as they existed approximately twelve thousand years ago.

The blues, greys and greens form a purposeful shape that evokes the original Americans’ way of life. The drawing’s outline of an arrowhead, axe, and pummel represents the basic tools for hunting, defense, and construction—the essentials for living.

The intricate interior design of man reaching across open country symbolizes the peoples’ journey from the Bering land passage from Asia to the northwestern edge of North America, with outstretched fingers straining to find an allegorical coast of perpetuity that was just out of reach.

The sizable emerald formation at the heart of the drawing represents the land’s natural riches, while the obsidian dagger symbolizes the rituals and faiths of the thousands of tribes who inhabited the great continent.

Ara Hagopian’s latest book: http://www.LeavesOfYouth.com

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Hidden House

Look at this old residence. There are stories that occurred within this home’s walls, but in the viewer’s world these stories don’t exist. We tend to pass by old homes because we don’t give much thought to the human history of the place. Maybe we think the people who lived here were just like everyone else. Or perhaps we don’t think of them at all.

If the families who lived in this dwelling behind the scraggly vines—this Hidden House—weren’t famous, or of blood relation to us, then why should we be interested in their past?

We could say it’s like owning a particular object—say, a stapler—but having no awareness of it. What if you’d inherited a small box of stuff and you’d stored it in your basement. Let’s say a stapler’s in that box. Since you don’t know of the stapler, or you once knew but had forgotten about it, the item is essentially a non-entity. It doesn’t matter that you happen to own the stapler, because in fact, you do own it. But if you needed papers bound together tonight, you’d have to buy or borrow one.

You don’t know of your basement stapler. It doesn’t exist in your world, and yet, it does exist.

Are you with me so far? Let’s take a look at Hidden House again.

The stories that originated at this address are the “unknown staplers” of a family’s life—the lives of many families. But so long as the historical anecdotes remain out of our sight, the goings-on do not exist to us, the stranger. Most likely, we can’t call upon the previous owners’ accounts or investigate their details. Until a person steps forward to talk to us, or a document is discovered that reveals the people who lived here, there is not much for an observer to hook onto.

So to us, when we look at Hidden House, there’s nothing. But yet, there was something.

The occupants’ activities are memory boxes of a sort, long thrown away. What’s important for the casual observer to grasp is the massive weight these boxes carried. After all, pre-and post-Victorian-era people lived here, so by default their lives were linear.

Vintage life tended to string activities together like beads. Often, one event had to come and go before another was managed.

This linear concept applied to nearly every household. Information and activity tended to flow in and out of homes in a simple, consecutive fashion. A person’s linearity was like an endless private tape measure, with accumulated rolls of activities instead of inches and feet hash marks. The spools of these tales were lost; how could they not be? Unless someone kept a detailed diary, there were no means to record or preserve the comings and goings of Hidden House. But we can believe that many interesting adventures took place in this home.

How do we know this? Why should we care? If history hasn’t noted anyone of merit in Hidden House, why should we be concerned with its generations? How can we be so sure interesting events took place here? Weren’t most people’s lives routine and unremarkable?

If we tend to slight the value of drama in commonplaces, it’s because we aren’t aware of the depth of content that’s present just about anywhere, given the nature of people and the course of time. So long as there were folks living and working their days and nights, there would be accounts we’d be interested to know.

We have a lack of interest because we don’t know what went on, not because what went on wasn’t interesting!

Their arcs would engage us. We’d see a twist of ourselves in them, or we’d marvel at a different social value system.

But—like the stapler—we don’t know we’re missing these stories. So we go out and buy others. We consume what’s packaged for us. We make our way to book stores or online, and pursue what’s neatly written and placed upfront, fiction and fact. There’s no fault or blame in our doing so.

Consider this. Someone starred in Hidden House. A good guess would be that there were many stars involved at this address. Maybe someone fell in love, or worked themselves to exhaustion on too many days. Perhaps someone gave up on a precious dream, or cashed out their savings, so that another person could enact a dream of their own. Someone was not free; others had too much freedom. One thing I’ve learned is that reality exceeds imagination. It’s hardly documented—no one’s kept their spools of routine—but the sheer weight of numbers backs this.

Another lesson I’ve learned: Entertainment is about storytelling. I think we’d find delightful interest in Hidden House’s personal accounts if the stories were told to us, just so. If we broke the linearity down to a contemporary meter, and edited-out the repetition of which we need not be bothered, then we’d have the basics of a good story.

A gift-bearing child walking to a friend’s house may carefully alter his route to avoid the local bullies—and then there’s a bully standing on the friend’s street corner.

Human drama need not be epic to be interesting.

When I look at this Charleston house, I see old wood siding and shutters, with layers of leaves that reveal advanced age. Who dreamed, and desired, and laughed here? Who cried? What was the source of their strife, and how close was their solution? Who built this home, who toiled in it, what were their ambitions, how did they view the world?

We don’t know what we’re missing, in Hidden House.

(Excerpt from CHARLESTON WANDERINGS photography exhibit.)

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Ara Hagopian’s latest book: http://www.LeavesOfYouth.com

 

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Maybe

Today I want to talk about the poem on pet loss, titled “Maybe”. LEAVES OF YOUTH readers can find it on page 222.

I wrote “Maybe” in 2009, after a neighborhood cat got hit by a car. I’d been very friendly with this animal and her death affected me, even though I didn’t know her owners.

I’d see this domestic longhair when I’d take walks. Her name was Angel and she was the nicest being you could imagine. She would come running when she saw me, even though she was a shy girl. I have short movies of her doing this.

When I began writing a poem for Angel, the best ideas seemed to come from the first person point of view. It’s an odd way to write but the thoughts flowed best this way. So with this poem, the animal is talking to you.

The poem isn’t just for my situation. I wanted it to be for anyone who’d lost not just a pet, but someone dear. “Maybe” isn’t pet-specific. It can be from a person you’ve lost.

So let’s sit with “Maybe” for a moment. Poems often have voices and this voice is sure, loving and definite. It isn’t in pain, isn’t sad. She’s supreme. She knows you’re hurt, and she’s reaching out to you.

Everything she says is confident. She speaks of ways you and she can reunite. In fact, she tells you six different ways you could “again share a space”. Not in the way you had known, but in ways she knows. With all that she tells you, nothing is outerworldly, nothing is fantasy. As the “Maybe” poem relates, she is simply giving you a heads up to be aware of very real signs.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite lines. She’s telling you something; her love is reaching out to you.

“Maybe one day you’ll make a new friend

With no communication,

But an understanding

That someone you lost was nearby again.”

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The poem “Maybe” is from the book THE LEAVES OF YOUTH http://www.LeavesOfYouth.com

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