Thursday, July 12, 2007

Leisure

Taking time off...the very phrase leaves a hollow feeling in my gut. To do so is difficult for me to achieve, at the best of times; if I don't stay in the present moment, it is impossible to achieve.

The weather turned hot, at the beginning of our "time off", when our friends arrived. It was really the first time in awhile that I had seen a warm Sun; it oiled my bones and made it easier for me to move...

But the heat slowed us down, in another sense, and the inclination was to sit in the shade of Grandfather Tree, where it is always just the right temperature, with Wind whispering a soft message in the sound of the Wind chimes. And where world problems, memories and confidences were exchanged, with as much energy as the hot day allowed.

When I worked outside my home, holidays were more like what the word implies to me. I was away from my "place of work", and was able to leave it there, in that distant office. When my office is in my home, I have discovered that taking relaxation, taking leisure time is not quite as easy.

Especially when my work at the present time is also my passion. Writing is breathing to me; all manner of strange behaviour occurs when I don't write. Because then I write in my head. And sometimes, if I am in the company of others, I 'wander off'...and when I return from my imagination, my inner world...all kinds of subjects of conversation have passed me by.

I find this to be such a disservice to others, who believe I am listening and are including me in what is being said, only to find that I have really no clue.

I tell myself to listen, to focus, and if the discussion holds my interest...I am there, in the present. Should my interest fade and my attention wander, even just a little, I must be vigilant in returning. Sometimes it becomes hard work.

It's difficult for me, at times, to listen and focus for any length of time on conversations. My mind jumps from pillar to post...it's a job to rein it in and concentrate. The smallest thing will dislodge my attention from matters at hand.

And others can find it disconcerting, when I offer an opinion on a subject nobody was anywhere near discussing. When I notice confused faces, I realize I have done it again...imagined a scenario, solved it and given the opinion that caused confusion. I try to explain; it is like walking through a watery maze, as I follow the circuitous route my mind has taken to reach the conclusion I just gave.

Solitude is common for me; I am good at meditating whilst I weed or do some routine task. I also amuse myself for hours with differing scenarios streaming out of all the small, ordinary events of the day. I imagine conversations...he'll say this, I'll reply with that, only the conversation takes place in my mind.

People watching gives me wonderful inspiration.

Whole generational stories have evolved in my mind over a couple who are innocently sitting on a large log, washed up in a ocean bay. I wonder about what they do, where they live, what their parents were like, what did they learn from their grandparents...on and on it goes.

Difficult to return to the present, when the imagined world is so fascinating.

When I am on a writing schedule, I work and write until a little while before company is to arrive. And then I bring myself out of the "zone", and slowly, will become more conscious of the world around me. By the time friends arrive, I am well and firmly grounded and have no trouble with drifting off into another world.

When I take a break, take a holiday, I no longer take the time to write. Instead, I am stern with myself. No more office, no more computer, no more writing for at least a week.

It begins okay. For three or four days, I ignore my favourite room in the house...my office. Then, insidiously, my thoughts turn to whatever I might be writing at the time, or what I intend to write, or what might be a good subject to research. Given a few more days, and I am exhibiting the behavior previously described.

I have decided, if I am at home during a holiday, that it just works out far better for all concerned if I take a few hours and write. It clears my mind. All the bits and pieces of my mind that belongs to the writing world come tumbling to the forefront, eager as puppies to be let out of confinement.

I also know that a few days away from writing will allow these bits and pieces of my mind to refresh and renew. I have decided a few days away is good, giving my muse a glass of clear, cold, sparkling water instead of a glass of cloudy, muddy liquid to work with.

And I have decided that I am who I am...a writer. I am lucky in that I have understanding friends and a partner who allow me to be. They might be a little confused at times, understandably, but mostly there is just acceptance and very little judgment.

I am grateful. Because I don't believe I can change my behaviour. I can temper it, tone it down, do what I have to do to become more hospitable and in the present, but I can't/won't stop the muse.

Doing that would spell disaster for any writing I hope to do.

So leisure time, even as it renews and rests the soul, can sometimes be too much of a good thing, for me, if it means I must ignore the insistent muse.

The office door beckons and the world begs to be written about...relaxation brings about a re-kindling of my creativity.

No matter how I do it.

8 comments:

  1. This post really spoke to me.

    I too now work at home and find my "breaks" are very different from when I worked away from home. As a writer I also find it difficult to break away from my work and just take time off without the work calling to me, and sometimes reclaiming my attention.

    It's also beneficial, I've found, to take real breaks from it. When I'm intent on a story I sometimes find I'm completely immersed and even my dreams when I sleep are all about the story. There comes a point when this is all too much and I have to just let go of it for a week or so. I find that, too, helps the creative process. I come back to it fresh, and leave the old groove in which perhaps I felt stuck, for fresher ground.

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  2. Marion, I missed you while you were away. Welcome back! Those who love us come to understand why we do what we love and allow us our time both with them and away from them.

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  3. Marion, I am the same way when I do not write for a while my mind becomes my legal pad. I constantly look for things that will make a good subject and then I compose it in my mind to the dismay of others when I seem to forget they are next to me and trying to have a conversation. I try to write something every day and it helps. But like you, there are times I just want to unwind and do no thing. It works for a few hours then the urge to put words together enters and I try to say no but it does not help. That is why blogging is a such a great friend. You have entered into my closet and found some room.

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  4. Barbara, I think it might be easier for me to travel away from home, with regards to writing...a real break, as you say.

    When my mind is as refreshed as my muse, that's when the creativity really bounces!

    Sheila, I am so grateful for the people who love and understand me enough to let me be. Some times are worse than others, in my inattentiveness. I can imagine how exasperating that might be.

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  5. Dave, I think I might be a good candidate for a laptop. At one time, I wrote longhand on a pad of paper, which worked well. I can no longer write by hand as much, due to arthritis.

    But then, I guess I would just be taking my office with me, lol!

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  6. Breaks are great, about laptops, only issue I have with them is I am sure it's awesome if you have little fingers, but I find it hard to type on those things with any speed. lol

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  7. Hope you feel refreshed after your break Marion. Unfortunately writing is a very solitary pursuit but it helps that you have an understanding partner. If you're anything like me, ideas pop into your head all the time, even when you're supposedly "resting". Also having a home office is always a temptation to go and put some ideas into print.

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  8. I don't even have your excuse of being a writer, as my mind tends to wander off into all kinds of places when I'm supposed to be listening to someone. I really have to work at it to stay focused on what they want to say. I, too, enjoy making up life stories for the people that I see, as I love people watching, too.

    The difference between what I do with my wandering thoughts, and what you do with yours is painfully clear. YOU are a writer, and it shows in every post you make. I'M a blogger - not the same thing at all. LOL!!

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