As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I have been working my way through The Artist’s Way lately. I am taking my time, repeating weeks if I need to so the 12-week process may take me all of 2021 but who cares? I mean, really, who cares??
I am in week 4, which among other things is a week of reading deprivation as a way to boost your own personal creativity. Umm, what?? Meh, I don’t think so!
I felt uneasy and uncomfortable at the mere thought of such a task. The idea of going a full 7 days without reading was nearly as bad as contemplating fasting for a week. I love reading and eating for that matter. When I shared with the hubs I wasn’t reading for a week, he was suspicious of whether I could do it. That was appropriate.
The premise of experiencing reading deprivation is that without entertainment, without the constant flow of other people’s thoughts, other people’s words in your head, there will be space for your own. Without someone else painting a picture in your head with the words they chose and the ones they left out, you’ll begin to see your own pictures and go about selecting the words you think best describe the scene.
That’s the thing about words. We are always doing our best to select words that describe what words are not. Words are not innately experiences but we use them to tell others about our experiences. Words are not feelings but we try on adjectives and nouns in our efforts to make someone else feel what we are feeling inside.
The more I pondered this, I came to the conclusion that words are more like vehicles. We use them in an attempt to get other people to land in the same place we were, or are. We use words to evoke emotion, empathy, compassion, familiarity, shared humanity. We USE words all the time. We tell kids to use their words, which means in that context to talk instead of acting out your anger or frustration. But the truth is HOW we use and choose words matters just as much as choosing words over actions at times.
In my week without reading, words flowed more than maybe ever before. Many of them nobody will ever read. Those words, the ones that will be tossed out with my journal at some point in the future, or deleted from a saved document on my computer, still needed to be written by me. This is what it means to “give voice” to our hopes, dreams, despair, sadness, confusion and all the other countless emotions of any human being. For the ones that may make their way out of the private stash of my endless scribbles and meet the light of our blog, a book or who knows what, I remember they are a vehicle. I am trying, among other things, to transport you to a place, an idea, a consideration that maybe you haven’t had before. I am attempting to provide an experience or have you step into one I have already had.
Reading deprivation turned out to be a necessary challenge. It showed me how often I reach for a book, an article. It showed me how much I depend on words in my life. I depend on my own to make sense of me. And I depend on others’ words to tell me about them. Our intent when we use them matters, and the impact when they make contact often matters more. We have all hurled them and we’ve all been struck by them. We’ve had them whispered over us and shouted to us. Words are the vehicle. Where are they taking us? How good is our hearing, our listening? Whose words are we willing to be open to and whose words do we deflect?
As my week long fast from reading comes to a close, I am sure I will find my nose in a book again. I also see that even the most beneficial practices like reading, deserves moderation. If I am so full of what other people think, feel and how they see the world how will I know how I do?
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G