Saturday, April 05, 2014

Shopping vs. Buying vs. Writing

Today, after two days of hiding from it, I began the formal proposal for the rosary book.  The six pages I thumped out in three hours may be the easiest if dullest part of the proposal: the nuts and bolts of the rosary in terms a non-Christian or non-Catholic would understand.  I had to explain things I take for granted -- the descent of the Holy Spirit and his gifts -- briefly and unemotionally.  This is not the place to be any more clever than clear, cadenced writing requires.

Still, it was writing something that will be part of Something, which is, I'm afraid, different than blogging, here or for Psychology Today.  Once embarked, I was no longer crossing something off my list.  I was gone, in the zone, that place where even though I had eight Google windows open, the most self-conscious I got was when I couldn't immediately come up with a synonym for "misfortune" and had to open another window.

It was wonderful.

When I go into hiding, I also lose a lot of awareness but it's different.  I'm know time is passing, I'm determined to burrow further into my escape -- into House or the New Yorker or a book -- I am passive in a way that writing is not.  Writing is stenography.  I write down what I am given.  Reading or watching TV or playing mah jongg is giving up my end of the conversation.  That determination to lose myself takes work.  Once I get into writing, it's not work.  It's an open channel.

Until I don't know what to do next or my motor runs down.  A kind of tiredness comes on: ideas are harder to come by, I find myself staring at the screen.  That's when it's time to quit.  Every task, every inspiration has its enough point.  Three hours is a respectable run for the money.

I tried to piddle around with social media obligations but I was tired from my shitty chair and of the screen looking at me, measuring me.  I decided to go down to Montague Street and run some errands.

It's a slightly chilly, sunny day, very early spring.  Some daffodils are up in sheltered places.  Crocuses are wide open in those same sheltered places.  People have been filling planters so there are tulips and hydrangea out that are artificially forced.  Many people were strolling along Montague, which is the High Street of Brooklyn Heights.  I'd brushed my teeth but hadn't bathed or put on clean clothes and I was grateful for the latter because I'm wearing my warmest sweat pants and needed them.  The first thing I needed to do was pay my Verizon bill, which takes me almost a block beyond my usual rounds and I realized that unlike me, hunkered down for errands, the people around me weren't consumers, they were shoppers. 
They were in a zone as well, deciding whether they wanted Spanish food or Vietnamese, what color show they liked best, what they wanted for dinner, what they wanted to pack for their kids' lunches next week. 

I think it's only when I travel alone that I become a shopper rather than a consumer.  Even in my pre-agoraphobe life, if I went shopping I went buying.  When I went to Key Food, I bought the four things I need to get through the day.  I chatted with the clerks and I didn't rush, but I didn't shop either.

I want to say that, financially challenged, this isn't going to change any time soon, but isn't that sort of stupid?  A shopper looks for the best apple, thinks about a red versus a yellow pepper, knows that there will be dirty pots and pans.  A shopper thinks about what someone else might like or what will look best on their own shopper-self.  A consumer grabs and goes.  The only shopping I did was to make sure I didn't get spaghetti sauce with mushrooms in it.

By the time I got home I was tired from my morning, shaky after scratching errands off my list, hungry.  For once I'm not second guessing what I wrote, probably because it was like writing the rules of a complicated card game.  I'm reading a friend's novel to help with revisions suggested by a literary agent.  I have to call my father back.  I have this promise of a blog a day to fulfill.  I have stuff to do.

But I feel like I've touched two completely different realities today, one that is active and participatory but silent, and the other also active and participatory but...turned outward, visual.  I wasn't imagining much as I wrote but I was fitting facts together in a melodic way.  The shoppers were more imaginative, fitting objects together in a music I don't understand.

1 comment:

Hilary said...

Oh, "flow"--don't you love it? The world goes away and time becomes non-existent for a while. This is the joy of writing or for some people, art or whatever their activity might be. So happy for you!