Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people. – Anonymous
I’m in a funk. As I mentioned in a previous post, amidst the busyness of summer, I am not spending much time in contemplation. My writing is suffering for it.
At first I didn’t mind. I was having fun with the kids picking blueberries and making pasta, and I was fine with writing being a simple practice in painting scenes from our days. But as days gather into weeks, I am restless. I am not satisfied with my work. My posts here seem flat – they are simply descriptions of events and conversations lifted straight from the pages of my journals. My posts didn’t seem alive, and until I stumbled across the quote above, I couldn’t put my finger on what was missing.
Ideas. With endless activity, and constant togetherness, and nonstop doing, there has been no place for ideas.
It’s not a novel notion, this concept that new thought introduces depth and verve and significance to both writing and conversation. My husband and I laugh about this all the time with our 7 year old daughter, how she regurgitates “And then this happened, and we did this, and she said that.” Ultimately we prod her, “Yes, but how did it make you feel? What did you think of that?” so we don’t die of boredom listening to a recitation of events. Then I come along and do the same thing with my writing and wonder why it has no life. Or I struggle with revisions, with injecting my thoughts and feelings, when my critique groups says, “It’s really good – your descriptions of the pool and swimmers are wonderful – but I want more of you in it.”
In the first weeks of summer I didn’t feel the need to turn inward. I didn’t care about my mind going any deeper than sensory experiences. But now I find myself checking the calendar – when does school start again? How many more weeks? I crave solitude, and mental space to think about bigger things than that day’s to-do list. For on the rare occasion when I do have an idea, I don’t have the stamina right now to sit with it. In summer, there is little time for “moodling,” as Brenda Ueland* calls it, for “being idle, – because thoughts come so slowly.”
I guess my brain had had enough with the neglect, because I was up this morning at 4 instead of 6. Moodling in bed. Wide awake, two hours before my alarm, contemplating, should I just get up now and sit with the page? I have a first line – “I’m in a funk.” The rest will come when that cursor blinks in my face. I can nap later if I need to.
So here I am. Fortunately, one thing I learned on my path to adulthood is that day follows night, spring follows winter, life dies, and through its death, provides nutrients for new life. Always. No matter what place or mood I’m in, I won’t be there forever. Whether I can’t stop crying because of PMS, or the kids are on my last nerve after the seventh “Get these LEGOs off the stairs!”, or I’m simply in a funk because it’s summer and I’m dissatisfied with my writing, I always take solace in knowing my mood will change. It may even teach me something along the way. The PMS will pass and I’ll be laughing again. The kids will finally get it on the eighth try and I’ll forget there were ever LEGOs on the stairs. Summer will end and I’ll be able to think again. To moodle. To digest doings, and till feelings, and react to life. And maybe, if I’m lucky, to cycle back through to an idea phase, alive with new thought after a season of dormancy.
*From Brenda Ueland’s If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence, and Spirit