Friday, April 5, 2013

The World Is A Book

You know the debate, the perennial internal argument the writer has about process; the when, where, and how of it all. Hypnagogia versus nine-to-five versus the dead of night.  At home in sweats or dressed for the office.  A strict two hours daily (more or less) or when the mood strikes.  These are the mechanics of the writer's day, and, so the argument goes, the sooner we establish our own, best work habit, the sooner we can get on with it. By that logic, discovering what best serves the muse is essential, the foundation on which our creative house rests. But is the writer forever in the same place  psychologically, emotionally, physically?

As an aforementioned, rolling-out-of-bed, writing-in-sweats type, working in the city was never on my radar, so I've been alert to the effects of commuting on mood, inspiration, organziation, and productivity; all the elements, psychological and pragmatic, that contribute to what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls flow.  And all I can say is that somehow, for me, the daily journey, by car, train, and foot, has become symbolic of the larger journey. Making that physical transition from home-place to work-place serves as a kind of pyschological bridge; one of those thresholds that clearly mark the passage from the external, everyday, practical world, to the internal, out-of-time, imaginative world, where the writer spends her days.

Art is exploration, after all.

Also, there are the swans. The pair that spend languid mornings between the pump house and the wooded shore, unfazed, apparently, by the passing rail traffic. There is also the bluebird, feeding, of all places, at the base of the chain link fence on the outbound side of the Southboro station. He is early, and alone, and goes from fence, to ground, to fence again, in a flash of cornflower blue, almost unatural in its intensity against the dirty, late spring snow. Then there are the Valentine's Day commuters, who, along with the ususal briefcases, laptops, and pocketbooks, are overburdened with the expressionThe love train.
of their affections, cellophaned bouquets and heart shaped boxes of chocolate.

Commute is from the Latin, commutare, "to change often, to change altogether," and in all its multiple meanings there is always this root of transposition, of metamorphosis. On the long ride to and from I think of this, and all the ways the journey itself helps keeps the creative well from running dry. The world is a book, says St. Augustine, and those who do not travel read only one page.