Sometimes, for weeks on end, it seems I’m always running, my mind going five hundred miles an hour. I’m watching the clock, composing and checking off mental lists, getting ready for my next task even while I’m recovering from the previous one.
Awhile ago, I was invited to go to Bingo, more specifically to Turkey Bingo where the prizes were either hams or turkeys. Bingo. How hard can it be? A number is called and you put a daub of ink on it. I wasn’t prepared for the picture frame, postage stamp, kite, Sputnik, and endless other bingo configurations. I panicked. The ladies around me were very helpful and finally lent me a pen so I could outline on my card the picture I was supposed to be filling in.
I concentrated on my card and the room grew silent as the cards filled and bingos grew closer. Then the world changed.
I could hear every nuance of the squeaking hand cranked ball spinner. I looked up and saw with clarity the woman across the room, her hair in perfect waves from the hairdressers, her wire glasses slightly askew. I could smell the burnt coffee and the chemical orange of the cheezies in the bowl in front of me. Everything was wonderfully distinct and delineated.
For weeks on end, the world passed by in an insignificant blur as my mind raced with its endless tasks and now, in a moment of quiet, the world filled with gorgeous detail.
I need those details as a writer. The curve of the backs of the wooden stacking chairs, the cat hairs on a woman’s pink sweater, the miniature faded union jack flag in a vase of dusty plastic flowers, the fact that a group of eighty-year old women giggling sounds just the same as a group of twelve year-old girls. Those are the sights, sounds, and smells that inspire and nourish me as an artist.
But, unless I take the time to slow down, to quiet the self-important hamsters spinning the wheel of my brain, I will miss those tiny but most important details and I will be the poorer for it, as a human and an artist.
(and I won a ham too…)