The Epic Nature of Life

Last night, for the umpteenth time, I snuggled on the couch and let myself be engrossed, mesmerized, entranced, enraged, impassioned, and yes, infatuated, by the movie Last of the Mohicans. James Fenimore Cooper on the big screen - frontier romance writ large, bigger than life, panoramas that spread from horizon to horizon, close-ups that show every vein on every leaf, every scar on Magua's face.   It's hard to find an onscreen villain more frightening than Wes Studi. And have you ever seen such romance as that between Hawkeye and Cora Munro?  And what about the clash of cultures?  Stolen land?  Nation against nation?

Each time I watch the 1992 movie based on the second book in Cooper's The Leatherstocking Tales, I ask myself if I am brave enough to WRITE BIG.  Not safe, but BIG. Fearless.  After the movie last night, I came into my office and without turning the lights on,  typed this declaration:

There is nothing more beautiful than human tragedy and triumph. Nothing  more beautiful than a man protecting the woman he loves, than a sister shielding a sister, a man giving his life for the woman he knows he can never have, a father seeking vengeance for the death of his son, a woman killing to protect what is hers.  There is nothing more beautiful than a woman hungering for a man, nothing more beautiful than a brother loving a brother, nothing more beautiful than a father's love for a daughter, nothing more beautiful than friendship between man and woman and child.
Watch Movie Trailer
Can I write such a story? Am I brave enough?  Can I see the beauty in the pain?  Do I love humanity enough?  Can I set aside my own fears, my own smallness, my own frailties, and enter the fathomless sea of human experience?  Can I envision a story that lives outside the borders of all I know, yet comes from the depths of all I feel? 

The answer is YES.  Yes, we can write these stories.  Yes, we are brave enough.  Yes, we can set aside our smallness and our frailties and reach for that deeper part of ourselves that knows there are GREAT TRUTHS in this world, and it is these truths about which we must write. 

Book's endpaper by N.C. Wyeth
Be brave.  Write the BIG story.  Be fearless in your belief  that there is nothing more beautiful than your struggle to hold onto all you believe to be sacred, all you believe to be eternal. 

Trust the humanity of each character who finds his and her way into your imagination.  Trust that life is meant to be lived with passion, full throttle.  Dip your pen into the center of your own beating heart and paint a timeless image on the rock wall of the world. 
Pictographs at Lathrop Canyon
Leave something behind that is worthy of the path laid before you.  Footprints in the sand.  Handprints on a cliff.  Even the deer leaves tracks, and the winds form dunes, and the rivers carve their canyons.  Write your story.  Tell the greatest truth you can tell.  Believe in the epic nature of life.
*     *     *
THE MOHICAN TRIBE TODAY: "Contrary to early American literature and Hollywood license, the Last of the Mohicans continue to outlive James Fenimore Cooper's book-ending prediction. We are alive and thriving in a beautifully forested section of Northern Wisconsin." 
THE 2013, 10th Biennial JAMES FENIMORECOOPER PRIZE Competition: Honors works of literary fiction that significantly advance the historical imagination. The winner will be chosen for its literary quality and historical scholarship. Sponsored by the Society of American Historians.


Carol Grever said…
Incredible inspiration for me, Page. You make me believe that even I can do this. Thank you!
Carol Grever
Carol, I’m so glad it was inspirational for you! I’ve got to admit, I love this movie – and each time I watch it, I am re-inspired.
Anonymous said…
Hey Page,

Your name came to me as I attended the Feminist Luncheon for the first time today. I loved what you just sent and printed it out as a guide. Thanks,

Barbara Marshak said…
Love your newsletter; always so beautifully written, Page! And this one so timely ...

Your opening Write Brave, Write Epic, addressed to me personally....well, let’s just say it spoke to my heart, especially as I’m contemplating a sequel to my book about Paul LaRoche, Hidden Heritage. (Never mind that Last of the Mohicans is my absolute favorite movie; I’ve watched it enough times that I can recite the entire script along with the movie.)

So everything you wrote tonight really connected with me. As you said, “Leave something that is worthy of the path laid before you.”

Love that whole paragraph. Maybe I’ll frame it (with your permission & name) and post it in our ranch office.

Barbara Marshak
Camille Lione said…
Wow. Write!

Camille Lione
Heloise Jones said…
Hi Page -
Love your post. I'm finally starting back into the novels and my charge to myself is go deeper. Take risks. Tell more than the good story.

I, too, love "The Last of the Mochicans film" (one with Danial Day-Lewis). Something about it. Perhaps it's that it was filmed in natural lighting as much as possible. The fort (in Asheville, down the street from where I lived, btw) in natural darkness. The confrontation at the falls in natural daylight. Perhaps it's the truth of what we will do for love, as you say. What I know is the moment it hit me, when I got "it." It was when the runner from the fort with the message runs, trusting his compatriots for protection. Tho he knows Indians surround him - who will fly at him, shoot at him, tomahawk him - he stays focused, never hesitates one-half second, never looks back...because he knows he'll surely die if he does. *That* blew me away.

Hope 2012 is turning out to be a good one for you.
Hi Heloise. Thanks for sending the note, and of course, you would have special reason to love the move, seeing as how it was filmed in your beautiful neck of the woods, even though you’re now living in another beautiful place. And yes, the scene with the runner, that he never looks back, is amazing.

Yes, 2012 is promising to be a much easier year than 2011.

Aloha. Page
Dan Guenther said…

I really enjoyed your comments on Last of the Mohicans.

What a movie that is...

Wes Studi's Magua is a classic.

LH said…
I LOVE!!! that movie too! And yes, who can forget Maugwa. I have it in my collection and the soundtrack as well. Thanks also for the info on the "treks"! Perhaps I'll get to consider one in the future when work doesn't take up time. The best to you and a great remainder of the week!

Sherry said…
This is beautiful. Sherry
Lois said…
Thanks for a truly inspiring--in the whole sense of the word--response and encouragement based on The Last of the Mohicans. Right on; write on. All the best! Lois
Anonymous said…
You always inspire us, Page, especially in this post about brave, BIG, writing. Thank you!
Lois, thank you for taking a moment to leave a comment. Yes, write on!

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