To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.
At my local beach there’s a group of middle aged men who jump off the jetty every morning. The varying shades of grey, and leathery bronze skin aren’t enough to disguise their deep boyhood—they splash each other and joke as they swim back to shore and their laughter carries the length of the jetty. They walk out of the ocean, talking and laughing and again make their way to the far end to pin drop into the deep.
I know this is what they do because it’s something I observed early every morning over the school holidays. My girls had swimming lessons at this beach for two weeks, and every day at 7:45am I would carry my basket and coffee and sit with my back against a pylon; legs in the sunshine, the rest of me under the shade of that jetty.
I saw the beauty of doing the same thing daily. Watching the rhythms of that beach unfold around me each day; the elderly woman with her mask and snorkel who swam slow laps right along the section of ocean that changes colour from light to dark, the gaggle of men and their jetty jumping, the corporates at the café waiting for their long black and muffin to go.
With my heels in the sand, and my girls in the water I’d open my black Moleskine journal and let the words tumble out. Often they weren’t poetic, more an organising of thoughts and intentions. I think that’s what writing does; it slows us down enough to catch our thoughts, and we’re maybe even then able to identify some of the wrong ones, ones that are damaging.
CS Lewis put it this way, “First, I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about it. We do not write to be understood; we write in order to understand.”
We write to understand. To rethink our thoughts, to retrain our brains, to make the unclear clear. And in the beauty of a daily rhythm in writing I’m finding that there is an untangling and a releasing. Sometimes I don’t even know I need something to be untangled, or let go, but then I write and I feel like it’s left there on the pages instead of weighing heavy on my heart.
I understand this completely. I’ve always written to understand myself. These past few weeks I’ve been working through something and my notebook is filled with random thoughts. As I read over my notes, patterns and big ideas jump out at me. Clarity begins to to form. Ah! I’m making sense of something that was intangible.
Great post, Em. XX