A good friend of mine told me about a Native American proverb that goes something like, “If you don’t understand my silence, you won’t understand my words.” I sat with that one for a few days after I first heard it.
My whole life I’ve had an overwhelming list of interests, many of them even categorized as “passions.” Had I not developed a minute degree of discipline over the years, I’d still be a professional dabbler – and likely still in grad school. The mythical but unemployable “Jill of all trades; Master of none.”
Five is a limit that has long worked for reining in my scattered attentions. So I keep a list of five facets on which to focus. These areas of interest change several times a year; some rotate based on the Pacific NW seasons (raining/not-raining). I try to save indoor activities for winter and outerworldly pursuits for our brief but hedonistic summers.
Drawing and Playing Guitar are two hobbies that have long held the #6 and #7 spot on my list. Always there, always tempting, always out of reach. When I decided to Start My Own Business this year, that single line item took up a hefty #2 on the docket. Which means Blogging, after a seven year run in the top five, was pushed out to #6.
The problem with #6 is that I don’t do it. The idea of blogging becomes swiftly annotated with the sentence, “I’d love to, but it’s not in my top five right now.”
(I make it sound as though I run my life like a corporation. I guess in some ways, I do.)
Honestly, it might be the official coining of the term “BLOGOSPHERE” that was the final nail in the coffin for me. When I heard M’ichelle Norris on NPR stumble over the term for the first time, I slammed my laptop closed in defeat. “This marks a momentous day,” I said aloud, to no one in particular. And taking out a mechanical graphite pencil, I erased Blogging from its slot in the top five.
I am painfully conscious of the meta-irony and humor evident in writing about not writing. I make fun of people who write about not writing. But that’s not why I’m here. Part of this is thinking out loud. Part of this is an excuse note, in a way. “Please excuse K from her absence; she was out playing in the sunshine.”
The thing is, this morning I was leaving the house and stopped, stunned in the doorway. The pre-dawn sun was backlighting the pink mountains, frosted with whipped-cream snow. An enormous, pale full moon slung low over the city. The Space Needle proudly hoisting its Christmas tree toward the heavens. A Disney skyline sparkled. The glittery city shone, some fantastic set before a play begins. I took a photo. I wrote about it in my head. And then I went to work.
I miss the depth of experience that comes with sharing moments like this. Explaining it, painting it for you increases my enjoyment of the original scene. It becomes more memorable to me. This tiny slice of simple joy colors the rest of my world — the rest of the top five.
Self-serving? Yes, a little. But more accurately, it’s symbiotic. Or perhaps even mutually beneficial, to put a little marketing spin on it.
Whatever the reason, I think my chronicles serve as an enrichment exercise for the rest of my life. If nothing else, they are an archive of time and place.
The second reason I’ve found myself drawn to this locale almost urgently this week is that I really hate Facebook. I hate Twitter. They’re like this crowded high school cafeteria where everyone is vying for attention, strutting and preening and spouting constant self promotion.
I’m well aware that this is not a popular stance to take. But I honestly believe all this Tweeting (guh – the word itself makes me gag) and Facebooking is degrading the nature of our interactions. Disintegrating our attention spans. I feel empty after “social networking” – like reading Oprah Magazine. “It’s so shiny and glossy! It promises so much!” And after reading it cover to cover, or likewise spending empty time online, I feel hollow and lacking.
I also am highly resentful of the distraction this digital masturbation causes in my real world relationships, when spending time with friends is broken up into two minute blips by the checking of email and Twittering our whereabouts. It’s all unbearably un-zen.
Be here now.
Returning to this space feels like a refuge from the din. Maybe I just don’t like the competition. Could be. But it’s so quiet and serene here. I don’t get interrupted. I’m not limited to ejaculatory bursts of words. I can take my time to weave my narrative. I can take my time.
So I’m considering either adding a slot for #6 on my list or amending another interest to include Directionless Digital Ramblings in Wishville. Maybe I could add line item “B” to #3, Morning Pages. I still get up at least an hour early every morning, still write longhand before I start my day. I feel like blogging, at least here, at least for me, can be a similar exercise in creative discipline and stirring the pot. Refilling the well.
Because creativity is abundant, and the more you use, the more is generated. I need to stop treating it like some precious resource. It’s exponential. It’s big and dynamic and can be banged around, stretched out, and never used up. Not like time. Not like Now.