(Update: the attribution should be to Benjamin Brewster, not Yogi Berra.)
That thinker doesn’t look very comfortable.
Leaning back in a rocker — now that’s my preferred contemplation pose, knitting needles clacking or netbook keys tapping.
Thinking about thinking, writing about writing, posing quandaries, positing solutions.
That’s some of what i had in mind when i conceived of this site years ago, in particular with the Ruminations tab.
To me the term has always had an agreeable association with “a reflective thinker characterized by quiet contemplation” [Free Dictionary].
For obvious linguistic reasons, i recently wondered if there could be a relationship to the thirteenth century Persian poet Rumi. As fitting as that might be, the theory apparently has the lamentable disadvantage of not being rooted in fact.
It turns out the root of ‘rumination’ has a more down-to-earth source. Ruminants are animals who ‘chew the cud’ — gaining additional nutrition from what they ingest by later remasticating what had been only partially digested.
Yuk — not the most pleasant image. And yet i do relish the idea of turning one’s attention to a prior experience in order to glean further nutrients from it.
For me that is exactly what the process of writing creative nonfiction achieves.
I’m coming to understand, though, that the term is gaining wider use lately in a negative sense, referring to an inner thought process more problematic than productive. One that keeps a ruminator stuck in futility, either replaying a past event or worrying about a future one.
This is what prompted me to post about how i think of the term.
When i see a friend or family member struggling with depressive ruminating, i’m aware that my personal methods for coping with difficult thoughts and emotions wouldn’t necessarily help them with theirs…
It reminds me of the phenomenon of seeing someone else’s eyeglasses slipping down their nose and responding by pushing up one’s own.
Still, the action comes from empathy, from being able to relate to their issue at some level.
I suppose one reason the statue above is, well, thought-provoking is that observers see themselves in it.
Similarly, seeing ourselves in each other is key to connecting, and to doing so with creativity and caring.
That’s worth reflecting on.
That’s it, end of quip.
I thought of it as i was considering what writing is like, and what this year has been like.
Writing is gazing back and forward at the same time.
The raw material of experience and imagination forms an idea…
In shaping that idea for an audience, i’m looking ahead toward how the past-birthed notion might connect with the reader.
Even if i am its only reader, my future self usually takes something fresh from rereadings of past private expressions.
Personal essay writers and bloggers perpetually distinguish between the “I” and the “we” to decide which of our thoughts to impart.
Two kinds of intimate writing i bristle at…
Starting too many sentences with the phrase (or attitude), “We all…”
Or starting too many sentences with “I” — if they end without drawing me in.
The question is, What makes any one person’s thoughts of interest to another?Continue reading
“You see a [wo]man with too many books, I see a [wo]man with not enough shelves.”
“A tedious argument of insidious intent…”
I recently saw this phrase used as a social media tagline — and it wasn’t a T.S. Eliot account. It struck me as a pleasing expression; i didn’t immediately recognize its origins.
I should have. I studied Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” in college, though that was admittedly more than a few years ago.
Looking up phrases online, mine and others, is something i make a habit of in order to properly attribute them or to make sure one i’m about to use is original.
Rather than assume its social media user had concocted this one herself, the online search for this snippet rewarded me with a reminder of Eliot’s stunning craft.Continue reading
It’s about how the end justifies the memes.
Ok, that’s not a serious answer — although it’s true that this blog does include the occasional meme.
Over the years, i’ve given a fair amount of thought to answering the query concisely — starting with concocting the tagline about reflections.
When i began blogging, i’d had little exposure to the blogosphere in general. I simply set out to write about what interests me, hoping to make it interesting to others.Continue reading
“Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present.”
Don’t you hate it when you miss your turn-off?
Yes, i know, many of us use GPS now. But i still like to study a map at home before heading to the airport.
I tend to become anxious about catching the information in time to get to the lane i need, so it calms me to have an aerial view in mind as i’m trying to follow the signs and instructions.
The idea of planning for changing lanes came to mind when i noticed the date first thing this morning. Today marks seven years since the name change which precipitated the title of this blog.
I like it when dates sneak up on me like that. This anniversary wasn’t one i’d been looking ahead toward, as i’m prone to do, hand at forehead shading my squinting eyes.Continue reading
“For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.”