Today’s start feels a little more routine. I must be acquiring one, then, if I’m prompted to say that-!
For the past two days or so, my brain has been consumed with what I just realized is impostor syndrome overlaid with genuine logistical fuzziness. You see, on Saturday I’m teaching outdoor skills for Girl Scout adults, something I haven’t done in two years… and even then I’ve only done it the once. My logistical fuzziness is clearing now that I have 3 square feet of equipment laid out on my living room floor. I suppose those 3 square feet pointed out the impostor syndrome, too…tidying up my cognitive offloading creates room to see in other directions. I have no especial fix for this bout of I.S., though. I’ll have to ride it out until Saturday night.
Thinking involves an interaction between the person and the environment, just as perception does. Every act of thought is presumably situated in a particular context of physical, social, cultural, and task constraints. –Kellogg, The Psychology of Writing, p36
Today felt more routine in a less-happy way: I spent a half-hour after all the coffee was gone internally staring into space and thinking, “What in the sam hill will I write about today?” (Externally I put away dishes and other objects.)
I decided I’d read some more Kellogg to give my brain some furniture to arrange. Which worked! And promptly, too–within today’s first paragraph. The quote clicked with what I’ve increasingly observed in myself over the last decade: I must cultivate (farm) my context, my environment.
Now I’m working two metaphors, boo. “Furniture” is how I normally refer to it; perhaps that girlhood leaning toward architecture ties to arranging and re-arranging ideas in my mind. But farming is, I think, a better long-range way to consider what I need to manage. Farming involves seeds, environment, and time, and so does populating my brain.
Farming also holds a place for a key element that furniture-arrangement does not: consumption. Furniture is there, and only stops taking up space when one gets rid of it. But inside my brain I become empty, run out of material, have nothing to interact with or juxtapose. I need a steady supply of compost to keep everything growing. And by ‘steady,’ I mean ‘constant,’ not the once-every-year-or-two application I give my yard. Julia Cameron talks about required Artist Dates (I call them field trips), but non-fiction reading can provide me with more daily constancy. A colleague once told me, “I have to read every morning or I’m dead meat!” At the time, that seemed like a glorious luxury, but I now feel that pain.
In the past couple of days my mental environment filled up with “get cords for knot tying,” “shall I bother with a dutch oven,” and other tactical, uninteresting things. I cleared that out, happily ready to think ‘interesting’ again, only to find that my soil was depleted. Sure was handy to find a sprinkling of good compost right at hand!