Where and When in Time and Space: Background

percivalTree580I don’t know where or with what words to begin this tale, but here and now is as good a time and place as any. In the weeks to come, I will share some recent doodles in words and shapes about being oriented to our when and where.

Most of us, if asked to give an account of ourselves, would answer in terms of our who and our what. We take our identity largely from the work we do, from the hats we wear.

But our when and our where also serve to make each of us absolutely unique in all the universe. To to get to the when and where of any human existence, to really really REAL-ize the Big Story in which each of us has a short part and write a few lines of the Grand Narrative–well, we’ll have to come at that a different way, through an altered set of eyes, you might say.

Let’s take the perspective of a daydreaming young lad–we’ll call him Jacob–who, while sitting contentedly at the foot of an age-gnarled tree (the very one that you see here–matter of fact, he is there on the other side,  feet crossed, leg over leg, leaning back against the maple in the tall grass.) And so in this manner, he relaxes at a beautiful, serene forest margin for the better part of an hour alone.

Suddenly he realizes he is not just sitting stock still in the woods after all. “Still is still moving!” he says out loud. And anyone listening could not have understood.

His head reels. He can can barely take it all in. His breath comes in gasps, but finally he reins in his vast vision and slows himself down to chew on not more than bite-sized pieces of this revelation. It was still nearly incomprehensible even in these small bites, but revisiting a station of thought at a time would certainly be less staggering than the whole of it swallowed together.


And so begins an attempt to “serialize” a little exercise that I concocted one early morning a few months back on the iPad while staying with family out of town. I had nothing else to do, up hours before everyone else, so began to do what young Jacob did. I let my mind wander beyond my dark room and cup of coffee to the farthest reaches of time and space.

Soon I was doodling with the stylus in an app I like and use a lot. It is called Notability. The drawings are crude and I should make them over with more intention. But I won’t.

So rather than let this graphical daydream gather whatever kind of dust digital bits and bytes collect, I’m going to dribble it out here on Fragments as brief excerpts, but house the parts in a more embellished and serialized form over at the other blog, Life, the Universe et Cetera. (If you haven’t visited there yet, please do, and bookmark, and share. I’m gonna feel really stupid if I’m talking to myself over there. : > })

I’m not sure what kind of regularity I’ll be able to make happen on this little endeavor, but an installment a week I think I can promise. We’ll see where it goes.

This was originally motivated by the fact that, at the time, after creating this doodle-essay, I was spending some class time with the mixed-age students at the Blue Mountain High School. I had not intended to use this with the students after all, but after using this little story to show the principal how Notability might be used for his classes, he convinced me to share it with the students. And it has gathered digital dust since then.

So on Friday, I’ll post the link to Where and When Part One.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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