Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Balance Wednesday- Get Out

Winter continues to limp along, bringing with it my first sickness of the season. I have been moderately under the weather for the past two weeks. Not really sick, but a headache and a sinusy, congested, winter cold-induced haze that has left me exhausted and grumpy. The intense cold temperatures have also brought on all sorts of cabin fevery feelings. In fact, I am really starting to understand writer Jack Torrence's psychotic tendencies-- cooped up in an old snowbound building all winter, with nowhere to go except into the depths of your mind, a nagging wife and child constantly wanting your attention, and massive snow drifts trapping you inside. Not to mention that the Superbowl, the Olympics, and Downton Abbey are all over now, so what's left to watch on TV? Add all those challenges to the prospect of living in an evil-possessed hotel and it's no wonder he went crazy!

In an effort to not be like Jack, and avoid becoming the focus of a horror movie, I am attempting to overcome my sick fogginess by ignoring the wildly cold temps and getting out of the house. Monday night I drove across town to meet up with two fellow writer friends- also attempting to avoid Jack's fate. We shared a giant gingerbread cookie and groaned about the weather. We talked about our current writing goals and projects, and yes, exchanged a little gossip. As in any field, it is good to relate to others doing the same work because they can understand the pressures and struggles within it.

After a short while, we drove over to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to hear local writer Rachel Dickinson speak about her work as a travel writer. Rachel talked about how she got started writing travel articles, how she fell into being a bird watcher, and where her writing has and is taking her. 

She filled in her talking with a background of images. A huge screen covered the wall behind her showing places she has been: Peru, the Falkland Islands, Russia, and many more. As the images passed by, I had to avert my eyes. They were stunning pictures- too stunning, too moving, too reminiscent of my past life. A huge ache rose in me for the times when I could and did hop on a plane that would take me around the world. To anywhere I wanted to go. 

I tried to focus on what Rachel was saying, to listen to the cadence of her readings, the structure of her stories, the way she used her words, but the images behind her were large and powerful. One image slid into another, and then there was a scene of a vast grassland. Short, grazed grass on rolling hills as far as the picture could capture. Open space. The grey sky was pierced by a white sun in the distance that shined a light across the land. A light that shined into my eyes. I breathed into that space. Enjoying the moment of it, the fresh air that seemed to somehow conjure into the room in which we sat, I was grateful. It was like a dream. A dream of release and air and space that I so need right now.

It got me thinking about dreams and wants. It is different to dream to attain something in your life than to simply want it. The wanting only leads to more wanting. Want something all you like, that doesn't help you get it. Rather, it is the dreaming, the scheming, the doing, that pushes you to attainment. 

I dream of being a successful writer. I can't sit around wanting it to happen. I have to take steps, my own steps, getting up, getting out, stepping into a blast of cold arctic air, listening to other writers, breathing in their words and images, that will turn my dreams into reality.

In an effort to keep my dreams alive and to continue to avoid the life of Jack Torrence, I think I'll get out one more time and head to the State Theatre of Ithaca next week to watch The Shining and see Jack go crazy again. It'll be a good reminder that getting out of the house, no matter how cold it is or how sick I feel, really does help keep a cooped up writer in balance. 


Andy Boyles said...

Thanks for this, Amanda. I think I'll go for a walk after work today, because as you know, "All work and no play . . ." :-)

Amanda K. Jaros said...

Thanks for stopping by to read Andy! Definitely go take that walk :)