I was about to email this to you, but stopped myself, not certain if you really wanted it. But I did. After leaving your place the other night, (thank you for the cake) I realized I wanted and needed to write more. My heart needed it. So I began looking for elements.
For me, an element is just a random thing that you pay attention to, something you find beautiful that remains collected as a favored or curious image in your subconscious.
Writers Pay Attention– to activity, conversation, choices made– and writing is a processing of everything that’s been collected.
I’d been depressed. Depression stops me from paying attention to the outer world and its elements. Depression keeps me internalized, searching for meaning or release of what I’m feeling. It keeps my head down and my eyes on my heart. Therefore, I don’t write. Or I write very personal, very journal-minded essays.
Depression stops me from looking. Though after leaving your house that night, I wanted to look. I wanted to find something beautiful or curious and figure out how to use what I was seeing. Lately, during my commute I’ve been seeing construction sites. Even riding the bus to your house I noted the muddied tractors inside the crumbling shell of a block-long building. It looked bombed out and raw. Dirt floors, ripped sheets of insulation. My child-size heart wanted to stand and stare at the work; the cranes, the digging. Instead I longingly walk past the machinery and ache to climb the mounds of soft dirt.
Last night I came home and after several weeks of silence, began to write. It was hard; I handled the pen as if I were a kind of cripple, or afraid. But I wanted it. I picked up a nearby book, opened at random to a poem by Adrienne Rich. Her words chosen as if having strolled through a garden. I recalled what I’d seen earlier in the week and wrote:
hollowed buildings made crumbs in the name of industry, not war cranes reach towards a steel plated sky like a jeweled giraffe
I kept writing… Went back and circled the word jeweled, liking it and disliking it simultaneously. But: disliking things keep me from pushing forward. Disliking is the critical mind. Disliking while writing: Too soon! Too Soon!! Its more important to write. To cease being critical and transcribe everything the spirit that visits me wants to say.
I mentioned to you that night: the pieces I’ve written that people strongly respond to were pieces that came to me as if I heard someone whisper– they were not poems I Sat Down To Write. Sitting, thinking is a type of prayer. Writing practice or journalling or notetaking is a kind of exercise, a loosening of your resistance to what comes. All of us await the big message, but what if it comes and you’re not ready for it? Where does it go so quickly that it stubbornly never returns? Its easier to Stay Ready than to Get Ready. We must remain willing to wait, willing to stay open, willing to collect elements, willing to fail. I know nothing about construction except how beautiful a tractor on a mound of dirt can be amidst rain polished buildings. Vigilance is the word, diligence another. And patience. Patience, always.
What elements draw your attention? What makes a common thing uncommon? What’s beautiful?