Letter From the Editor: In Defense of Meandering

The word “meander” derives from the name of a river known to the ancient Greeks as Maiandros, whose “course is so exceedingly winding that everything winding is called meandering.” And a meander, as a noun, is a bend in a sinuous river. “Meandering” used in a disparaging manner, implies weakness, it implies vagueness and mildness that lead to inefficiency and failure. But surely there’s nothing stronger than a river. We might not always understand the pattern or the plan, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one. A river might not rush in a straightforward and obvious fashion to the sea, but with a wisdom we don’t have the capacity to comprehend or the words to describe, a river finds the best route, and makes a beautiful design as it does so. Though it changes with the seasons and the weather, and changes slowly, deeply, year after year, a river remains true to itself on its journey, unless we divert it or block it or dump trash into it.

Here at Tidings of Magpies, we like books that meander and movies that meander, and we like the act of meandering about in the world. We like to walk by the river, in an aimless and directionless fashion. We have some of our best ideas this way: pictures and stories often take shape in our heads while we’re adrift in this fashion, and there’s a delight in seeing where they lead us. Ideas are born in the hollow of unknowing. We believe that always knowing where you’re going, and always taking the quickest route to get there, and always checking your map or your phone’s map till that’s all you have in your head–all of that can be the death of the imagination, it doesn’t leave space for thoughts to grow and bloom.

Maybe as a society we’ve forgotten how to meander. We schedule our schedules and add them to our calendars. We count our footsteps and monitor the beating of our hearts and track our dreams. We’re always so plugged in we’ve forgotten what it’s like to not know: to not be sure where we’re going or how many minutes it takes to get there and what the weather will be like when we do and the exact specific answer to every little question that should arise in our heads. We’ve forgotten what it’s like to wonder, we’re uncomfortable in those little pockets of uncertainty, which is sad, because this is where new ideas thrive and grow. And we have no time to wander, to let our feet and thoughts fly where they will.

And with that I give you the latest issue of Tidings of Magpies, which meanders through the month with a strong though barely perceptible plan and purpose, and with wonderfully surprising bends and meanders along the way. We are beyond grateful to everyone who let us share their work. As always, subscribe, submit, support.

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