OK, so this metaphor might be a reach … I am not even sure where I am going to go with it, but it just popped into my head, and I am going to see if it turns into anything.
As I am scrolling my posts from this month, my first year participating in the SOL (hence the spare blog, no fancy sidebars, a couple of template pages sitting in my drafts, and a blog name that I don’t really like and intend to change when I stumble across the right phrase), I can hear my son, my oldest, in the kitchen: the clinking of metal spoon in ceramic bowl, the squeak of the hinge on the pantry door, the rustling of cellophane, the cascading cereal falling from box to bowl, the the suck and whomp of the refrigerator door opening and closing, the splash of milk, and then, the devouring. Bo ends his days the same way he begins them: a ritual of cereal to sate, temporarily, his incessant hunger. While he eats, he listens to a podcast or he reads. He is a growing, thinking, always-moving, calorie-burning machine. This little snack, always the same (and, therefore, skipped if we are out of cereal or milk), bookends his days.
OK, so I am not going to torture any kind of metaphor from his habits, but I can relate writing to a few elements. Since beginning the Slice of Life Challenge, I have, for the most part bookended my days with reading and writing. And that has been glorious. I have created space by cutting away things that didn’t need as much attention (TV) or that felt out of balance to begin with (too much work). I am realizing that there is time in the day if I choose to structure my days differently. And it feels so worthwhile to do for something that gives me so much, that shifts my perspective, that nurtures my love of words and encourages me to try to do something different with them. Two, I like the ritual. I like making myself a schedule (I need deadlines imposed, order created–something to keep me in line and on track). I like lumping my thoughts all together in a Google Doc and then pasting them into this blog. I like linking up with other writers in this community, reading one another’s posts, commenting, sharing, connecting with strangers about personal, universal experiences. Three, I am trying to sate an incessant hunger for words, those written by others, from whom I am forever learning about the what and why and how of the world and of writing, and an incessant desire to write my own thoughts and experiences into being and to truly see myself as a writer.
I have learned a lot about myself in the last month. I have surprised myself. I wasn’t sure I would be able to do it; in the end I missed two days: technical difficulties—user error, to be sure—and vaccine blahs, which I could have written through, and just didn’t. I think a small part of my trying-not-to-be-a-perfectionist self actually wanted to slip a little, and then let myself off the hook and keep going, to prove to myself that I am not all or nothing, that I can make mistakes, and all will still be right in the world. I have learned that I can write a coherent piece, beginning to end, without the aforementioned-perfectionist self getting too bent out of shape. Write, reread, catch most of the errors and inconsistencies, publish, move on. It already takes so much time to read and write every day. I don’t have time to worry too much about polish given the constraints. Plus, I don’t think that polish is the point. I think it’s about process. In rereading some of my posts, some of which I only vaguely remembered, all of which feel so long ago—even those written just last week—I realize that my life is as full as I feel it is, and often incredibly rich. Though I sometimes feel I am moving through these days, one after the next, same old, same old, I notice from my reflections that there is a lot more variation, a lot more detail worth my attention, and it is because of writing that I can see this, capture a fraction of it, and gain a different perspective on my life.
The list goes on, but time is up. Suffice it to say: I am so glad to have been part of this writing community, I hope to maintain this daily writing, and I will definitely maintain the weekly Slice of Life Tuesday challenge. I am changed for the better from this experience.
(Also, the cereal is random, but there you go: some things work out, some things don’t. Still, I like to reflect on my sweet son anyway.)