Friday, April 25, 2008

I'll call it narrowing.

Robert Olen Butler calls it writing "moment by moment through the senses." What it means is entering the scene and writing it as if you are the camera lens right there capturing it all of film. It seems to me that it is not so different than what Malcolm Gladwell calls thin-slicing in Blink. Narrowing your senses of perception. Slowing down what comes in to the essential moment by moment input. No thought of craft in these moments, no thought of market value, no thought of the kids coming home from school. I can relate to it in cooking. When too many factors enter into my decision-making then I don't cook well. Considering what people want, all the myriad of veggies I should use up, etcetera. But narrowing my focus involves choosing one or two things from the fridge and going from there. Starting with that and in an unhurried way linking flavors and textures until I have a whole meal. I suppose I can expand this to almost anything. I run best by myself, when there is someone else there I forget my own breath, my own footfalls, in deference to theirs (I am highly influenced). But if I focus on breath and extend from there, I almost invariably enjoy myself. So "moment by moment through the senses" as Butler puts it--I can feel it when I'm doing it. When Heather's head is my own and her experience and thoughts unfold in front of me.

As of late it has been easy enough to just go there. Sit down, reread what I wrote yesterday and start from there. I don't know why. Wasn't it about a week ago I said the words weren't coming? Perhaps I have my lord to thank. He's a thankless fellow and I do give him a hard time but he takes the burden off my shoulders. And even if his behavior is less than perfection (that is what any artist should go for!!) he does provide. As Thich Nhat Hanh teaches with anger, I must hold him, cradle my lord as I would a little baby, be with him while he misbehaves, non judgmentally.

How is that for externalizing?

As Always (happy),

p.s. Perhaps I have finished that process of labeling what I could see and feel easily enough in cooking, but couldn't in writing. I recognized a connection in my process all those posts back when I first mentioned cooking. Maybe I have now distilled it to a purity that can educate me as I write. In grad school they had us take another discipline in order to learn this thing, but it wasn't enough time for me to really take it on fully, to develop a naturalness where the shift in my system was evident, so I recognized it. And back then I still struggled with cooking. T.