The creases in my forehead were a live wire that ran straight from my brain to her trigger and lit the fuse.
I’ve always been one to speak my mind–to speak “truth to power” I guess you could say. But there are times when words escape me. When the right word just won’t come, no matter how hard I try to conjure it. This occurs at time of great stress or sadness. Maybe, you can relate? In these times I know that I must be still. If I try to force them, the words will only come out stilted or incoherent. I may use the wrong word, or words that are too harsh. Then I’ll just look back with regret at what I sent into the world, and once they’re out there, there’s no taking them back. So, as much as I love them, there are times when silence is, indeed, golden.
So, today I will be silent, and, instead, leave you with a quote from one who was better with words than than I am. Next week I hope to have something more eloquent to share. Until then…
We see the world through an odd-shaped lens.
We are observers, watching and waiting for moments of significance that we can connect to concepts and form into new realities. Yet we are often unseen.
Sometimes it is because we escape to a secluded place in order to do this work–the irony being that in order to capture the essence of lived experience we must remove ourselves from it.
Yet, even when visible we remain unseen as conversations inevitably turn to writing as grammar and punctuation, writers as mere trivializers of experience and writing itself as mere trifles. A conversation with a young math and science scholar reveals the devaluation of all things English. “Science,” he says, “is useful. We can learn things about the body, about the physical world, but in English classes we only talk about words and ideas. It is a waste of time.”
How else would scientists discuss the body and the physical world if not through language? How else would history and psychology be studied and understood if not verbally or in writing? Beyond that, how else would individuals know how to express their thinking on these subjects clearly if there were no discussions about writing and thinking?
Too often intellectuals, in a hurry to get to their destinations, disregard the vehicles that carry them there. Yet, I suppose, if those vehicles broke down they might miss them and, perhaps, then take note of the craftsmanship that made those vehicles run. The same is true of writing and the mastery of language. They are the vehicles by which knowledge is both generated and shared. The study of writing and how it is produced and perfected is not a waste of time, but a science in and of itself. Certainly it will not interest everyone, but neither should it be dismissed as unimportant. We use language everyday. We rely on it to conduct our business–it is not relegated to the classroom and neither are the principles that are learned there.
Yet, the invisible writer is not necessarily a bad thing. The fact that writing is taken for granted may also be a credit to the skill that is employed by writers who produce such good work that they disappear! The slogans on your cereal box, the catchy phrases splashed on the wall at Zaxby’s, even the clever little phrases on the Taco Bell hot sauce packets were the work of an invisible creative mind. The application forms you fill out for employment, the instructions you rely on to assemble your new gadget, the news you follow on social networks–all the work of a writer you will never know. When the writing is bad, the vehicle breaks down and you wonder about the craft, but when the information flows there’s no thought to the work that went into every jot and tittle.
But believe me, it is work. The words don’t appear magically. It is by blood, sweat and tears that the vehicle is constructed. It is not only in coal factories that work is done, but also in coffee shops, in quiet corners, at raggedy desks in lonely buildings once students have fled and janitors are sweeping through the hallways. Invisible writers tap away at keyboards reflecting on the world they’ve observed, trying to make sense of the chaos, hoping to reshape meaningless moments into objects that can sit in the mouth like peppermint—sweet, refreshing, enlivening—and leave a pleasant, lasting impression even after they disappear.
Well, here we are–like it or not–at the beginning of another school year and the end of another summer. It’s enough to bring on a serious case of the blues. Soon we’ll trade in the easy breeze of summer for the hustle and flow of fall, to say nothing of the cold that blows through as winter months loom. Back to the mayhem of homework and projects, student/teacher conferences and music lessons. Mid-week meetings, programs and late night studying. Even if you’re not in academia—as a student or teacher—I’ll bet you notice a shift in the atmosphere when the summer season switches from summer to fall. Bosses won’t be out on vacation, kids won’t be away at camp. Let’s face it, the pace slows during the summer. We might even be caught with flip flops on under our desks or come in a little tanned from relaxing by the pool over the weekend. Or maybe our smiles stay over on Monday morning because cool summer nights linger and so do the memories.
Ah summer…ya gotta love it!
Sadly, all that’s over now, but to beat the blues today, I’m offering a sensation that’s summer-inspired. It’s a grilled turkey and veggies burger with some blue cheese sprinkled in to keep with the “blue” theme. This can easily be a veggie burger too, just leave off the turkey or add your favorite meat substitute, yum! Check out the recipe here.
Why so blue? Of course, there are many causes for the blues besides the passing of summer. Sometimes we can explain it. Sometimes we can’t. To beat the blues, we need a good coach. They’re not just for athletes, you know? We each need someone who can stand on the sideline of our life with enough distance from and perspective on our situation to be able to see what we’re dealing with and give us advice about the next step. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need someone who can yell louder than the voices in my head. I need someone to tell me I can when those voices keep telling me I can’t. But then, I have to do my part. It’s not enough just to listen. I also have to believe. Too often I’m more willing to believe the negative voices than I am the positive affirmation.
Do you know what I mean? Last week I talked about the messy middle. Sometimes in the muck and the mire we feel as though the outlook is hopeless. The voices in our heads are so loud that the voice of the coach is a distant hum. But the difference between us and Him is position. We’re only able to see the situation from where we stand—or sit. But from the coach’s vantage, there’s a view of the entire field. The coach can see how our situation fits within the context of the whole game, not just this one move at this one moment. If we would not only listen, but also believe when the Coach says, “you’ll make it, you’re okay, the game’s not over,” we might actually be able to beat back the blues…
In last month’s First Monday I promised a writing challenge, so here it is. Check out this video on beating Writer’s Block. Every writer has experienced it and every writer thinks there’s no cure, but there is. Your challenge is to watch the video and follow the 5 or 6 steps provided. Then tell me in the comments box if the method actually worked for you! Remember, this doesn’t have to be for creative writers only. This works for any writing project you might be faced with. Do you need to write a letter, but can’t find the right words? Need to write a personal statement, but can’t put it together? Have to write an essay for class? Sit down, set a timer and start putting words on the page. You’ll be surprised by what happens.
Nothing beats back the blues—or writer’s block—like blood flow! Health professionals recommend a minimum of 2 ½ hours of physical activity each week, but that can be broken up into 10 minute spurts which is perfect if you don’t have a lot of time to go to the gym! So, here’s your wild card back-to-school-blues-buster for today:
If you have a treadmill:
- Set your incline to 2 or 4 and your speed to a moderate pace so that you are speed walking. That means probably around 3 or 4. Keep it there for 5 minutes! (Note: adjust the incline and pace based on your own fitness level. Your rate of perceived exertion—RPE—should reach about 5 on a scale of 10)
- Set your timer for 5 minutes. Bring the incline down to 0 then for 1 minute jog or run at your fastest pace. Walk at an easy pace for 1 minute then repeat speed run for 1 minute until the 5 minutes is up (Your RPE should reach about 7-8)
- Increase incline and pace and set timer for as much time as you have. Repeat cycle with speed runs and walks as many times as you feel strong enough for. If 10 minutes is all you have, decrease pace, cool down, drink plenty of water and head to school or work knowing you can conquer the world with your Coach and the proper perspective! (Jeremiah 29:11)
If you don’t have a treadmill…
These exercises can still be done on a track or open road adjusting your pace according to the timer. If you have access to hills or stairs you can add the incline also. If space or weather is an issue for running outdoors, another alternative is jumping rope or jogging in place. To keep these options from becoming too redundant, set your timer for 1 minute and switch between the following:
- march in place
- jog in place
- jump rope
- jumping jacks
For more exercise options, check out Monday Mayhem: Tabata Mania! and Monday Mayhem! How to Get Back to Work after Vacation