Sometimes when I sit down to write, I find myself narrating what I see – “The sun is shining on the fields. The sun just went behind a cloud. The lobelia needs to be watered.” This is a symptom of too much input and not enough processing. I’m overloaded with stimulus, and so when I stop to clear my mind so that the words can come forth, I have to begin with clearing away what is right before me, the most immediate inputs, if you will.
To a certain extent, I blame the internet for this overload. I can spend hours and hours a day just linking to things or reading updates or checking out the latest blog post. If I’m not careful, I get myself all stressed out with two chat windows open, an email started, and a blog post going. As my friend Shawn Smucker noted, “Iâ€™m simply stating a fact. The Internet is destroying me. That is all.” I may not go that far; I’m not sure it’s entirely the Internet’s fault, but the Internet certainly isn’t helping.
I also don’t help myself. Instead of taking Anne Lamott’s advice and spending some time just flopped out on the couch staring, I bombard myself with stimuli, and I keep myself busy, as if I’m afraid that slowing down means I will leave something unfinished.
The truth, though, is that the only thing that all this input leaves unfinished is me. I can’t finish a thought some days. I leave books half-done, sewing projects half-sewn, and essays half-written. I may be getting a lot done, but I’m also leaving a lot undone . . . including my spirit.
This becomes apparent to me when I finally do stop, take a deep breath, and see not what I have to do but that which is before me. A beautiful field where the grass is so yellow-green that it seems to glow from within. A beam of light that hits just the copper tray and the bud vase of zinnias on the table. An evening so quiet that I can hear the ticking of the clock behind me.
A moment of peace. A moment of peace.
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