Keyboard Exercises

By Jim McCloskey

Among the many things I like about working on WaterShapes.com and its companion digital newsletter is the opportunity it has given me to write.

Back when I was with Pool & Spa News, I wrote opening editorials in just about every issue for nine years.  That kept the engine going, but I wouldn’t exactly describe the “Reflections” I wrote there as either free-wheeling or exactly fun and creative.

In 13 years of the printed version of WaterShapes, I recall composing just one Structures column in Eric Herman’s place along with exactly one feature article (on the waterfeatures at the Getty Center in Los Angeles); for the most part, my writing was confined to business-related letters and email exchanges – again, not exactly high-volume fun.

I have to go all the way back to a magazine I worked on long before I became part of the watershaping industry to find what I’d call a regular writing gig.  It may seem strange to any of you who know how resistant I’ve been to changes in fundamental media technologies that I wrote a monthly column in the early 1980s on (I swear it’s true) the dawning Information Age and the way computer technology would be affecting a huge hospital/healthcare system.  Life has its ironies.

My favorite recollection of those days was staying home one morning to put the finishing touches on a column about a cutting-edge patient-information system – composed, I might add, on an ancient manual typewriter my father had passed along to me for use in my university days.  I finished up, prepared myself for work, drove to the office and went through my backpack to get the text, which was nowhere to be found.

In those days, I lived in Eugene, Ore., which I’d generously describe as “not dry” most times of year.  In my rush to get to the office, I’d left the pages and a cup of coffee atop my car while I closed my umbrella and plopped myself into the driver’s seat.  Off I went, failing to notice the cup tumbling off the roof over the loud music I was playing and also failing to witness the spectacle of my column wafting on the breeze.

I quickly realized what had happened and drove the seven miles back to my house as rapidly as I could.  In the (fortunately) quiet, lightly traveled street in front of my house, I found each of the six pages, soaked (unfortunately) by a steady drizzle and almost illegible on the crummy paper I’d used.  Learned a couple lessons that day, believe me.

But I digress:  With the writing staff for WaterShapes now limited to me and those who contribute articles to the newsletter, I have lots of opportunities to stretch out and rediscover the simple joy of writing as a steady diet.

I find satisfaction in writing my WaterShapes World blogs, but they follow in line with the sort of magazine-opening editorials with which I am all too familiar.   Rather, my delight comes in pulling together Travelogues once each month.  They give me a chance to express myself on many more levels that do my blogs and have helped me realize that, through the years, I have been exceptionally fortunate to see a lot of the world, often in a purposeful way.

I’m extremely lucky to be able to share what I’ve seen – all by way of encouraging you to hit the road to size up, critique and appreciate significant watershapes on your own.

I hope I’m to be forgiven for indulging myself in this way:  In retrospect, spending more than 30 years in positions that essentially cut off opportunities to express myself creatively was an underappreciated component of my job satisfaction, and I’m pleased to say that now I am an unusually happy camper.

And do get used to it, because I have all sorts of writing projects in mind for the future!

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