Yesterday, I was at Relish rolling silverware and I felt that certain peace of mind you only get when doing something mundane that your hands have done a thousand times. At the storytelling workshop, Lynne said your story will come to you when you are washing the dishes, because that's when your mind is quiet. As a writer, I have found this to be true, there is only so much work you can do on paper, and then the rest of the story, poem, song or essay will come to you when you are walking to your mailbox or ironing. Especially endings; they love laundry day.
I find it a bit sad that we don't quiet our minds more intentionally or train ourselves to slip into this state of day dreaming more often. I had a therapist once who challenged me to do nothing else while I ate. Just eat. This felt like torture to me, I prefer to read while eating, and when I reported this difficulty he said, Ah, now I know something about you- you like to multi-task. And it's so true, there is nothing I love more then a good hardcore multi-tasking session. My comfort place is on my couch with a movie playing and surfing my phone or texting friends at the same time, food and drink handy, probably my laptop open too. Lately I've been challenging myself, if I decide to watch a movie, can I just watch the movie?
Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Buddhist monk, scholar and poet, also spoke about dishes, saying that while washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes. This week I am going to work on this. I'll leave my headphones off when I walk the dogs, maybe I'll even try driving without my podcasts on. Maybe an ending to a story or a start of a poem will come to me quietly, sneaking in only when I stop thinking about it, while I am folding a sheet, warm from the dryer, matching its corners and creasing its edges.
When I was at Smith I took a drawing class and though I wasn't very good, I fell in love with the concentration it takes to draw. Contrary to what I thought, drawing isn't about looking at the drawing, its about looking at the object you are drawing. You can lose yourself completely in this way of looking, you start to see that there are more colors then you previously believed. The sunlight on the flower is not yellow, it is yellow and white and red and orange and pink and purple-tinged. Its shadow is green. But its not just green...... you get the point. I asked another student what kind of music he listened to when drawing and he said he didn't like to listen to music while drawing because he was a musician and he wanted to leave space in his head for his own music to come in.
I had another friend that told me the best way to learn how to sing, to really sing, is to drive your car really far out into the desert and learn first how to scream as loud as you can, as if no one would ever hear you. If you decide to try this, please do not hurt your throat. Find a non-harmful scream and go from there. See how free you can get. See how much space you can make for yourself in the world with your own sound. Its about giving your voice permission to be whatever it wants. Many people have not done this since they were a kid, or have never done it at all. Some have only done it in anger or fear.
When do your stories come to you? How do you leave space for them to come in and through what door? How do you give your voice permission to be whatever it wants?