Never Stop Looking

In Rob Reiner's movie “The Magic Belle Isle,” the actor Morgan Freeman plays the roll of Monte Wildhorn, a novelist of Westerns who has lost his imagination to write and now mostly only sees the end of a bottle, harvesting that last drop of Sour Mash, as he struggles with alcoholism. 

Monte passes his day in his wheelchair, cabin sitting for the summer and taking care of a dog Ringo, that does not know how to play fetch, in the hope of ending his long writer’s block. His next door neighbor is a lovely woman Charlotte O’Neil, played by actress Virginia Madsen, who is a newly single mom with three daughters. One of the daughters, Finnegan O’Neil, played by Emma Fuhrmann, is an inquisitive child with lots of curiosity who wants to be a writer.

She strikes up a conversation with Monte at a memorial, where she shows him her small pocket knife and Monte tells her in his soft reassuring voice, “. . . you can tell a lot about a person character about the condition of their pocket knife and I’d say you were fearless.”

She asks him if he writes stories, having overheard a previous conversation Monte with another person. “I used to,” he replied. “How do you make them up” she asks. “Imagination, the most powerful force made available to human kind.”

The Oak

The following day, Finnegan walks into Monte’s cabin announcing she needs three words, figuring he would help since he writes stories and this is only followed by “Can you teach me to write stories?” She persists and finally persuades Monte to overcome his reluctancy and to take her on the as a student, even though he himself has been having issues with writing since his wife died.

Finnegan tries to negotiate a deal with Monte for these lessons of imagination, offering to ‘look out’ but he is not too willing, so she ups the offer to pay cash for his services, a whooping $34.18 Dollars in cash, which is all the money she had.

So what exactly do you want for your money.” Confidently she replied “I want to know where stories come from.” After an exchange of a few more sentences, Finnegan asks “When do we start,” not realizing the she just had her first session.

As her second lesson, Monte slowly descends a narrow country road with Finnegan by his side and Ringo following. He stops and asks her “What do you see up the street,” then asks “What don’t you see.”

She looks at him with puzzling eyes and Monte only repeats his question to her and she answers him with only one word, “Nothing.” There is silence between the two, then Monte says, “See with your minds eyes. Keep looking.

When the movie enters into its last chapter, Finnegan walks into the cabin Monte is about to leave behind as now the summer comes to a close. He is sitting behind a table and typing on an old mid 1930s typewriter , typing one finger at a time, the ending to one of Monte’s Western books, The Saga of Jubals Maclaw, which Emma had been reading and where the last page was missing. 

After an exchange of small talk, Monte gives Finnegan back her $43.00 Dollar, saying, “I will owe you the 18 cents,” proceeding to give her his last advice and tells her “Promise me something . . . Never stop looking for what is not there.

These eight words that Morgan Freeman spoke to spur the imagination of a young would-be-writer that made me pause and think. Eight simple words which are at the heart of what imagination is all about.

To see and imagine, 
to think and believe, 
then visualize the possibilities and act upon them. 

Let this be your guide, your credo.

Notes about the image The Oak

A photograph was taken using an iPhone 4S and the camera application was 6x6 from Jag. Imported into Distressed FX and a filter was applied. A second copy was saved after applying another filter. The two images were introduced to Image Blender and combined. It was then ready for BrushStoke final manipulation and turning it into a painting.

All photographs taken with an iPhone 4S by
©2014 Egmont van Dyck - All Rights Reserved

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