I was driving just now, listening to the music of a band I get to go see next week, admiring the bright blue of the sky and the shower of yellow leaves drifting over the road. I saw a sign, the kind they use for road work, and it said, "Put down the phone. Just drive."
It's a typical "don't text and drive" sentiment, but something about it I felt in my stomach. Was it the periods? It was like someone talking to you, or sending you a text message, instead of a mere public works announcement.
"Put down the phone. Just drive." Make it simpler. Focus on what you're doing right now. You're not missing anything. It can all wait until later. Right now is this moment, and it's here, and so are you.
I don't feel like I've been writing more lately, but I've definitely been thinking about it more, and thinking about the "why not" of it. The constant investigation of why I'm not writing more. When really I could just put down the phone and drive.
It's a habit to make, and it's mine to make. I can put aside the "I don't have time" and "I don't have anything to say" and "I don't have anything to write about." I can write about why it's so hard to write, or to make it a priority. I can create a practice of writing, ten minutes a day, less, just make it something I do more, more, more of.
"Put down the phone. Just drive." It also made me think about how it's so hard for me to just put things down, to leave things that aren't good for me behind. Just go. Just drive. Put it down already.
While I was driving I also passed a tattoo parlor. (There are a surprising number of them in the Jersey suburbs.) Again I had the thought that I want to get another one. It's probably not exactly the right time, as I don't know what it is I would get, and all of the rest, I knew exactly what I wanted and why. I wanted the permanency of them. I think that's what I like about tattoos, the very thing that scares a lot of people away: the permanency. I don't like giving things up, leaving them behind, letting them go. I want to keep it all with me.
Words are permanent. Or they can be. Writing things down delivers them into the world. Words make a mark. They can be powerful and dangerous and frightening. But, they are nothing to be afraid of.
I'm getting a little bit good at this. Following the arrow of thought wherever it goes. Staying more interested in the arc of its flight, the hue and heft of the feathers on its end, the sharpness of its tip, considering how it might feel piercing the skin or the heart but taking care not to get in the way of it, so as not to find out for real.
Looking at it as a thing of beauty, something to observe and stand in awe of, maybe even learn something from as I bear witness to its trajectory instead of diving in front of it and letting it sink deeply into my flesh.
Avoiding that drama. It's not that hard. You just don't move. You just stay still.
It's a different experience than plunging into the struggle. The pain can still be exquisite, even when you're just looking at it, running your hands gently through the air around and over the arrow instead of actually touching it.
Breaths and moments and days and weeks go by and I watch as my girls grow up, up and away, gorgeous like fawns, just as stunningly strong and just as beautifully delicate. The pride is fierce but the sadness of feeling them start to slip through my hands is somehow fiercer.
The leaves on the trees are as vivid as the feathers on the ends of the arrows, and soon they'll fall and drift in earnest. The air is crisp and clear, and the early darkness fills the heart to bursting with a beauty that makes me want to weep. The cold is starting to creep in, slowing things down. I'll try to keep watch through the deepness of the coming days, until the arrows of spring start to fly again.
1. I aspired to focus on mood this week, but I find myself thinking about structure.
2. My time is structured for 10 days by working in a new office. A new freelance job. It's day three but I already know my way around, where to get coffee, where the bathroom is. I pride myself on situation--on situating myself in a physical space. It gives me a sense of mastery, even if it's a really rudimentary one.
3. I was just reading an article about how form and limits are necessary in order to find and tap creative freedom. This is true, even though it seems counterintuitive.
4. Yoga is another place where that's become clear to me, maybe the place where it's become most clear. You can't just lengthen out your arm or leg and stretch it--well, you can, but there's a good chance you'll hurt yourself doing it. You have to engage the muscle before you extend it. You have to root yourself.
5. There's something to be said for freewriting, which in its very freedom and stream gives you some form, I guess. This is such a fluid idea, this push and pull.
6. But it always comes back to the push and pull.
7. This article I was reading also talked about motherhood and how having a child gives a women permission to leave nothing for herself, to put it all into this small person you've created. But if you actually did have 24/7 to yourself, to write, say, would that be enough structure for you to actually do it?
8. The pressure and pull of family--whether it's a child or a partner or a sibling or a parent or a friend--that forces you to create a space where there is freedom for yourself.
9. You make a container and then within that you can be free, or fully yourself, your essence. (Is that why cats like boxes so much?)
10. That's the creative feeling we crave, I think, the being with your essence while you're playing with words, or colors, or notes, or images, or whatever our medium is.
11. I do still want to focus on mood and description and the sound and feel of the words.