Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Reading Deprivation

I'm on a "Reading Fast".

No reading. Yes. You read that right. No reading. No books, no blogs, no internet, no in-bound email, no text messages.

Wait. What?

Reading deprivation is a tool, a jump-start toward creative output. As Julia Cameron suggests in The Artist's Way, "For most artists, words are like tiny tranquilizers. We have a daily quota of media chat that we swallow up. Like greasy food, it clogs our system. Too much of it and we feel, yes, fried." (p. 96)

She goes on to explain the paradox of emptying our lives of distractions so that we can experience the sensory world, make observations we might otherwise miss, do things we have left neglected and begin creating our own art, writing and so on. We fill the well of our creative potential with new sights and sounds that we may otherwise numb ourselves to if we are constantly filling the void with white noise and/or other people's opinions and perspectives.

"We often cannot hear our own inner voice, the voice of our artist's inspiration above the static... reading can be an addiction. We gobble the words of others rather than digest our own thoughts and feelings, rather than cook up something of our own." (p. 97)

The time filler of Facebook and daily digest of emails from intelligent, spiritual and/or witty bloggers are not wrong. But setting them aside for a time, I have realized my dependence on them as distractions, diversions or excuses from actually getting work done or spending time in necessary and beneficial self-care. Full-headed days packed with mind-numbing volumes of reading have given way to satisfying personal entertainment, meditation, face-to-face engagement with real people in real time and diligent, satisfying work. I've had short story inspirations, time to write an article for the church magazine, plan camping trips with friends and decide where to spend our 2016 holidays.

So far this week (in three days), I have written at least three pages (longhand) every morning, sent some important emails, listened to music (blues), danced, rearranged my accessories drawer and jewelry cabinet, learned a new way to remove dried blood stains, sorted and filed half my stacked papers, fed the birds & squirrels and spent hours watching their antics, photographing them and listening to their songs and fights, visited Heritage Park, gone out for dinner, had several long conversations with my husband about stuff that really matters, made dinner several times and enjoyed one on the deck while watching the sun set, played cards and Crokinole, learned to appreciate blackbirds and magpies, called my banker about business, called Spa Lady about an incorrect charge, called the dentist to book an overdue appointment, practiced music for choir, took a walk, wrote a poem, rehearsed my lines every day for my role in dinner theatre, sorted pictures and made a to-do list in which I have already checked off several things. And I have laughed. There's more, but some things are private.

All the while, the undercurrent of my major writing project is simmering at a higher temperature. It is always in the back of my mind, sorting itself, ideas and outlines coming and going, notes sketched out in morning pages, taking on a shape, slowly but surely.

I'm on the journey.

I retired from my last job completely depleted. The volume of information I had to absorb, sort, categorize and act upon was overwhelming. I was working out of an empty well. After truly resting for a few months, I began filling the well and now I am working out of my strength and getting stronger every day. I'm studying, writing, singing, speaking, acting, directing, loving, dancing, laughing. Oh, so much laughing!

Reading and Digital Deprivation, by intention, leaves room to fill the well with new sights, sounds, thoughts, feelings, and inspiration. I am richer than I have ever been, and not one dollar has changed hands.

I've just started paying more attention.

And the return on investment is priceless.

Photo credit: depositphotos.com #54606177, standard license

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