Here’s what often happens when I sit down here to write: All of the pre-composed paragraphs concerning at least ten different topics that have occurred to me previous to sitting down in front of my computer screen seem to vanish from my mind. A blank mind is an very unusual experience for me, and I’m always incredulous when it occurs, because when I sit down to meditate, that never happens. Lately, I haven’t been meditating as often as has been my habit for a couple of years. I’ve been writing so much that it fills that time window. I had convinced myself that writing was serving the same purpose as meditation – allowing me to watch the traffic jam of thoughts and ideas that grapple for space in the corners of my mind. This morning, tired after having once again stayed up too late writing last night, I plopped my cushion on the floor in its customary place and set my timer. Not surprisingly, the usual barrage of thoughts, ideas and even recipes ensued. But for some reason, I didn’t mind. I wasn’t trying to frantically record them with my pen. They ran around in my head for a while, kind of leap-frogging, mostly staying unfinished, while the next one got the spot in the front of my brain. Even that didn’t bother me though, because at least they weren’t multiplying as fast as I could record them, which is sometimes what happens when I write. After a while, they seemed to get a little less adamant about asking for attention, and quieter. I slipped into the trance-like state that I have been missing, but hadn’t realized how much. Though the thoughts were probably sill there somewhere, I don’t remember what they concerned. Writing later, I found myself more peaceful and able to track one line of thought more clearly, rather than feel like there were ten more banging on the door, all vying for attention. Conclusion: While meditation and Morning Pages may both allow me to watch the workings of my mind, I’m not sure that a steady diet of writing does anything more to calm the beast than would a steady diet of crack.
As for all the writing, I’m guessing that when I go back and read over these posts at some later date, with time away from them to add perspective, I will probably be rather mortified that I had the nerve to post all of this publicly. But it has accomplished and will continue to accomplish the mission of a daily focused writing practice. Without the luxury of time to edit much, its kind of like a string of lousy first drafts. The photography is the same way. Every day I practice and every day I post something here. I’m not always thrilled with the product, but I am learning from the process. I’ve done some interesting experiments that have been complete failures and I’ve learned new stuff that I will try again in a different context, hopefully with better results. All of this may be painful to read and view later, but I may just be curing myself of any residual fear of failing. By putting it “out there” for anyone to see and read, any and all failures are quite public.
Because this is a public forum, I try to be very careful about sharing parts of other people’s lives that they might be sensitive to. I can actually tell, in the writing, where I am doing this. Its as if there is more distance between me and the words. That seems to jibe very much with life, and parenting too. Instead of writing from inside of my own experience (or parenting/living), if I step back and try to see what someone else would think about it, I get disconnected from the experience. I become an outsider, looking in on the writing, living or parenting, and it doesn’t work!
This evening’s musings, all oriented around the feeling that this blog is kind of stumbling around in the dark, seem to do just that. Its hard to imagine that writing about being a stay-at-home mom, photography, and writing all together would yield parallel journeys, but it seems that they do. In all cases, I stumble around in the dark, try this or that, and fall on my face. Some of it is ultimately brilliant and some disastrous. Tonight, I’m not really sure where I’m going. First, due to internet failure, this is the second time I’ve written it, its getting late and I know its not really hanging together. Second, it really is about the conversation between the different parts of my life that doesn’t always make sense. Today it hasn’t. The conversation has jumped from one part to the another. The parenting part disconnected from the writing part and the photography disconnected from the writing. The photograph of the day comes from a short solo walk this afternoon because I’d had nothing captivate my imagination to photograph all day. I saw a gigantic puddle a couple of blocks up the street and thought that the way the house was reflected in it was pretty cool. The other photography part is disconnected from the walk…
I went to a talk tonight on the concept of Urban Farming. I did a photo documentary called “Growing Hope in the Urban Center” last fall from which the image that is currently on display in New York is drawn. The speaker tonight was a guy named Will Allen who started an organization called Growing Power: http://www.growingpower.org/ . Its an amazing and revolutionary idea that has the potential to completely change the way we city-dwellers think about food, where our food comes from, and how its linked to global food and economic justice. My passion for food doesn’t stop with photographing it and I’m sure I’ll work my way around to writing about Urban Farming… maybe around the time I start planting this year’s Urban Farm.
I’m adding the following link because, why not? Its one to keep on the desktop. Who doesn’t need a few words of wisdom every once in a while… particularly when the pieces of your life are just not hanging together.