Since I was a small child, I spend much of my time living “in my head.” My first friends were imaginary, and my later companions became books. When I’m in a particular social environment, such as work or school, I fully inhabit one intimate friendship at a time. So no surprise, I’m not mentally distressed by having to stay in. I’ve had endless hours to read and daydream. The busy life of an Accidental Icon never moved over enough to let some time in for these my most favorite pastimes. Or when I seemed to find a moment, I interrupted it to do something else. Ironically, the Great Interrupter has provided me with countless hours to indulge in these activities.
I do very much miss my mother, daughter, granddaughter, and my sister and brother and that’s been the most challenging part of this quarantine. My first foray out will be to see them. When I imagine where I prefer to go after that, when I can move beyond my immediate neighborhood, I want to travel to a cool green wood by myself. I need to find wildflowers and ferns and have only a babbling brook to speak to. Unlike others, I have no desire to return to a bustling cafe or run to a party.
As with any other thing in life, problems emerge when there is no balance, even if the scales are tipping in favor of what you love. So now I’ve moved from not enough time to think and imagine to a state of too much luxuriating in the grey matter. I’ve overindulged. The danger of such indulgence is that you may end up getting bloated and clumsy as you do from eating lots of pints of your favorite ice cream. My head is now heavy to hold up from overthinking, obsessing, way too many ideas, and other intellectual junk food clogging the neurons in my brain. Intellectual constipation ensues. The heaviness makes me lie down on the couch. Passivity covers me like a quilt.
I’ve been working with my agent to edit my book proposal. Another draft is due after this holiday weekend. My edits are suffering from the sluggishness of my overfed brain. Insights trapped and can’t get out. The memories my body holds of lying on the psychoanalytic couch and the wisdom gained sounds the alarm. It is the idea to rise, and just free-associate that gets me standing up. Time to exercise the parts that atrophied from not being used. I retrieve some colored sticky notes. I take to work. From my cerebral chrysalis emerges a beginning, middle, and end. There is now a flock of sticky butterflies on my white wall. I think they are beautiful. I photograph them.
So today I share with you an exercise I plan on trying next. Maybe not relevant to the book I’m creating, more to keep my head lean and mean. But you never know in advance what will come. It can provide inspiration for the other writing I’m doing. The exercise is a call to readers from all over the world to draw maps of their life during the Great Interrupter. This clever prompt comes from CITYLAB, a site that invites us to re-imagine city life in ways that are sustainable, innovative, and just. Here’s a link to the exercise and what other people have done. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
As always, remain safe, stay well.