A serendipitous message from my imagination

by DRM


Sometimes when I talk I hear my voice echoing in my head so I stop.

In mid-gesture, mid-sentence, I’ll stop and go follow the echo.

The moment that I am in — that absolute instance of interaction — is separate and unique from any other moment and I want to communicate in a precise and fresh way.

The echo is created by the collision of all the other times that I’ve used those words with the awareness of something new.

My pause is the way for me to gauge how to wed metaphor and statement and intention with the newness of what I am see.

* * *

I write so I can draw a bright line between the new and the old.

This morning I was struck by the message from The Daily Om, an online publisher that Tami started following a while ago. The gentle reminders about caring for our spirit were positive and sensible. I signed up too.

The message today was about power of objects to constrain our soul.

When you make a conscious decision to fill your personal space with only the objects that you need or bring you joy, your energy level will soar. Clearing your personal space can lead to mental clarity and an improved memory. As you learn to have a more practical and temporary relationship to objects, positive changes will happen, and you’ll have space to create the life that you desire.

The images of the different rooms in our lives, the different objects in each place — the shelves, books, papers, pieces of art, toys, pot, pans, blenders, cleaning products, theater props, gym equipment, old glasses cases, broken headphones — flashed in front of me, and then, in the moment of mental transition, I caught a glimpse of the real clutter I was burdened with: my thoughts.

The thought of what I needed to do; the thought of an essay I had started; the thought of the schedule for the weekend; the thought of the different projects to get started; the thought of the bills to pay; the thought of the appointments to schedule; the thought of the words to use; the thought of ‘I’ and the thought of ‘us’ and the thought of ‘you’ and on and on.

The clamor of those thoughts is like schoolboys running out a narrow corridor at the end of the day.

* * *

These past few weeks I haven’t kept to a regular writing schedule.

I live a highly mobile life and to write regularly means that I adapt to where I am and what I have to do. I need to plan the writing time out at the beginning of each week. I can’t write at the same time in the same place. To write productively, I need to replace the continuity of space and time with the continuity of thought and purpose. I write best when I am always tending to that thread in my imagination, like a mother who straps her newborn to her chest while she goes about the mundane task of the day.

When I write I have to pick words and put them down, then pick another, and each time I pick one I have to leave all the others aside. The word I pick sits on the page waiting for the next word to join it. Until that next word comes, the one that’s been chosen can’t know really what it is meant for, what it truly means. I’m responsible for making the words whole, and they are responsible for helping me discover the thing that was lingering at the edge of my imagination.

* * *

There’s a woman I don’t know named Maria Popova. Her name sounds like a character from a novel. She’s a journalist. And, periodically she tweets a delightful aesthetic or cultural discovery that she’s shared on her site BrainPickings.

About 20 minutes after I read my Daily OM, I clicked on a link from Maria that took me to a post about the artist Greg Beauchamp.

Here’s how he explains the intent of his work.

My work is a reminder to myself of all the things I need to work on in myself — all about positive, love, equality, and how we’re all the same.”

* * *

I don’t believe there’s a grand design that was singled out for me, and although I’d like to think that the divine spirit might one day reach out to tell me an important secret that no one else has, I know that’s the legacy of having read a lot of C.S. Lewis was I was a kid.

What I do believe is that we have to be responsive to what we notice. Our imagination is always sending us messages. It can’t speak directly to us, so it has to speak in code. The things we take special note of, that when we notice make us wonder why they suddenly appeared, the patterns that sit just at the edge of our perception, that flicker in and out of focus — those are clues that help us break our imagination’s code.

As I browsed Beauchamp’s work, I had a sudden understanding of what my imagination wanted me to know.

I am letting too much clutter my mind. I am letting too much distance grow in my work. I am casting my thoughts too far into the future. I need to pare down, and open the space for me to learn from the things that are new and beginning to unfold.