I set aside my writing because I could no longer understand the world and, thus, could no longer properly hope to describe it.
I left social media because it was making that swelling sense of tumult and incoherence even worse.
I even left reading for a time because it felt hollow and unconnected to things that were happening in my life. I realized, after a while, that I was no longer reading well. Words and ideas were blowing through me, and I was making no effort to catch or keep them. I was losing them and allowing them to be lost.
And so, I turned my attention to learning to read differently. To capture what I read. To annotate, denote. I am creating a practice of commonplacing, a habit I am still trying to cultivate and deepen. Commonplacing helps me hold those fleeting moments of insight called inspiration. Commonplacing helps me connect ideas together and find ways to allow my own thoughts to intersect and interact. Commonplacing is reintroducing myself to my own mind, which has grown weirder and more mysterious with time, to be sure.
I am getting weirder, but I no longer feel as frightened by my inability to catch ideas, to find relationships among thoughts, which is to say I no longer feel as overwhelmed, no longer as convinced I have nothing of particular use to say.
The words no longer simply blow straight through me.
I feel myself become weird and getting weirder.
For a time, I thought this must be middle life.
I am going to allow it keep happening. This is maturity.
I am telling you this because I want you to know.
I am writing.
I had never heard of commonplacing before, but it sounds good. I too am trying to find a way back to writing. This helps. And weird is good, I am learning to embrace my weirdness.
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Thanks, Amanda. Glad to know I’m not the only one out here embracing my weirdness. As for commonplacing, I’m still developing a habit and workflow because I like to make things overly complicated. I do find myself connecting more fully to what I read and recalling more about what I have read (both books and articles) long after I read them.
I’m also finding I need to keep myself careful to clearly mark what I’m quoting from others and what thoughts are my own. Looking back after the fact I can’t always be certain that I wrote a thing in my commonplace journal.
I plan to write more about my process in a future post. Just so we can all roll our eyes and wonder why I make simple things so complex.
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