Saturday, April 19, 2008

Time to Think

The May/June issue of Poets & Writers Magazine carries an article by Frank Bures called, "Way, Way Too Much Information," about the overload we're all processing and about how he was inspired by an essay called "Thinking about Earthworms," by David Quammen. Published in the early 1990s, the essay encouraged readers to dwell with their own minds, to avoid the pull of global-mind, to think about things of interest to them and perhaps them alone. Turn off the television, etc.


So I think about how much harder that imperative is now, in the 21st century--with cells, texting, blogs, email, TiVo, etc. Bures includes staggering information about the amount of data we're churning out each year and then he goes on to talk about writers who cut themselves off from the world, live in remote areas where they aren't so constantly connected.

I can't live out there, but one of the many things I like about offering writing workshops--especially those where we write to prompts--is that during the precious writing time we allow ourselves to drop into ourselves and think, let bubble up what will on the page. We can follow our thoughts, without distraction. Meander on the page. Meander is my favorite word. The silence that falls over a room when people are writing never fails to thrill me.

I don't give out hand-outs until the end of a session because people will read them during that precious writing time. I tell people that when they're through writing they can just sit there and think. That too is a privilege.

All my life, I've craved, needed, time alone, when I can just sit and stare out a window or take an aimless walk--without cell or headset. It's hard to ruminate if a book on tape pounds your eardrums or even a friend's voice.

I loathed Quaker Meeting as a child. How boooorrrrriiinng,dreadful, to sit there . . . in SILENCE. For a whole hour. I so didn't get it, couldn't bear it. Put me under the front-yard privet and I could stare at the clouds, silent, for ages but at Meeting I felt like I was on steroids--wanting to jump straight out of my skin, through the ripply-glassed window and onto the green lawn beyond . . . where I would roll and tumble away from that place, forever.

Speaking of rolling and tumbling, I've got to go. I'm closing my computer and heading out the door for a walk--with birdcall, traffic, and the crinkling of breezy tree leaves for company.

And my own thoughts.