I looked around after Christmas at all the fun stuff my family was playing with and smiling about. My husband strummed his new guitar, our daughter colored with her new Prismacolor markers, our son admired his new gaming monitor he couldn’t wait to set up when we got back home. I was happy. This Christmas was one of those where watching everyone open their presents filled me with glee: they were going to be so excited!
After Christmas, when we ran out to the music store to get guitar strings, and to the marina to look at boats, I thought about my family’s hobbies and how everyone has something they’re into. They have interests.
And suddenly I felt very boring.
I read, but that’s consuming someone else’s creation. I garden, but it’s currently off-season for that. The longest-running and deepest creative interest I have is writing. But I rarely do that anymore. Or I should say, I write every day, but it’s just journaling.
I’m in a rut. My mind is an endless recitation of arguments.
“I’m journaling because I enjoy the act of writing. It doesn’t have to go anywhere.”
“But I’m not creating anything new. What I’m writing is not interesting. It’s just what I did today or what’s on my mind.”
“So what? I’m writing. I’m putting words on a page.”
“But it’s boring. Who cares? I’m not intentional. I’m not selecting satisfying words. I’m not writing anything I’m proud of. I’m not improving.”
“Maybe I’ll feel better if I switch back to pen and paper instead of writing on the computer. I get so sick of the computer.”
“But then I have to buy notebooks and store them somewhere, and then they just create clutter on the shelf, and I’ll never look at them again anyway.”
And so on.
This argument played out in my head through much of our time in Florida, and again in the long car ride home when there was nothing else to do but think.
We passed signs for grapefruits, lemons, and red navel oranges while I ruminated about my boring self. Citrus is zesty and happy. I was tired of feeling bad. I decided to take inspiration from the citrus stands and to stop Eeyoring. I remembered the sense of place the names of winding Appalachian mountain roads convey, like Dark Hollow Road, and how they tickle me and I should write them down when we’re travelling.
So I pulled the pink mini moleskine out of my purse and started collecting words. I collected words we saw on painted plywood citrus stand signs. I collected street and business names on Highway 301. I collected words all those words made me think of. And as I collected, I felt my mood shift. Yellow lemons. Pink grapefruit. Pip. Tang. Zing.
I brightened. Particularly when our daughter, who didn’t know I was collecting words, said from the back seat, “We could get some red belly buttons!”
Don’t get me wrong. The writing arguments continue in my head. So I have this list of words. Now what? It’s not like I’m going to write a novel set in central Florida.
But they’re fun! Maybe I’ll use them one day. Or, I can just read them and enjoy the feeling they bring.