Paying Attention

February 7, 2008

Last night it was late by the time I was done with my chores and eating dinner and evening meditation.  I sat down and felt like I should be writing, but not really having anything creative to write about.   I sometimes feel hopelessly clueless on where I should even begin my writing.  Everything feels stilted, and forced.  Like I’m TRYING too hard and it’s not coming out right.

I picked up one of the writing books that I’m reading,  Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life  by Anne Lamott. I read a chapter about listening to the world around you.  Paying attention.  Trying to reproduce conversations that you overhear that are interesting — facial expressions, voice inflections, accents, mood, tone.

I realized that I come to work every day and I’m around tremendously interesting and unique people (euphemism for nerds :)).  The guy in the cube next to me is from the Netherlands, and I’m regularly listening to him in conference calls saying things like, “Hey hey, guys?  Guys!   We been sittin’ here discussin’ this same shit for, like, 15 minutes, ya know?  I mean, gettin’ nowhere, ya know?.  Like, I have a lota work t’do, and dis, dis is just wasting’ my time, ya know?  I mean, dood, the SAR wasn’t equal to da VTR and you know it couldn’t have been the FCT, you assumed dat…  dat you were right and everyone else is wrong and….  and just what were you thinking, man?” He makes me smile (when I’m not busy and don’t have my earplugs in).  For all I know he’s sitting in some high level executive meeting saying these things. 

I call my mother-in-law every day.  She is jam pack full of life stories that she repeats over and over and over, with every phone call.  Every story she tell me, she tells as though she’s never told it to me before.  I’ve heard it hundreds of times.  Yet, as a writer-wannabe, I cannot reproduce a single story.

 I call my mother every day.  She’s a funny person in that she has her own completely distorted view of how the world works.  Since her brain tumor 5 years ago she’s even more childlike and innocent than she was before that, which was still pretty sheltered and unworldly.

I spend so much of my day intent on getting my work done so I can get on with the “REALLY interesting business of writing”, and then I feel that I have nothing to write about.  I miss the fact that the entire world is dancing before me doing flips and waggling its tongue trying to get my attention all day.

I have things all around me that I can write about if I just can learn to open my eyes and ears and pay attention.  My goal for today is to pay attention.