Category Archives: Writing

First Impressions

First Impressions

 

“I hear not the volumes of sound merely–I am moved by the exquisite Meanings”

—Walt Whitman

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Observing attentively is the best way to satisfy one’s curiosity, and the mainstay of the creative life. Leonardo da Vinci had an easy way to do it: take the scene, event or idea apart, piece by piece, to bring the task down to manageable size. Every part had to be considered on its own until it was fully understood, and only then could one move on to the next. He talked with his patron, the duke of Milan, about the need for time and patience to process one’s observations, describing how the most goes on (in one’s head) when activity is the least obvious. Writers know intimately how true that is as they plot, plan and execute much of what they eventually write in their heads, first, before anything goes on paper.

That all sounds rather pedantic, but in fact, Leonardo took so much childish pleasure from his explorations, and I assume joy from the final discovery, that his means became his ends. A seeker of all knowledge, he observed nature so deeply and completely that he surpassed all the other Renaissance Men of his day, to say nothing of most creative explorers to come after. But his focus was on uncovering the secrets of the world around us, rather than the world within us, although of course there are places where the two cross over and seem to become one. Even so, I tend to think of the inner explorations of the human spirit launched by such men as William Shakespeare, and other poets and writers, as the most difficult of all.

Following a panel discussion recently between four wonderful poets, only one of whom was previously known to me, I found myself trying to take their ideas apart, piece by piece, to study their subject better, and realized it was getting hard to do that with every new thought piled on top of the first ones. Feeling as if my aging brain was probably giving off steam for everyone to see in its desperate attempts to dissect the discussion, I slipped more comfortably into focusing on the poet I knew from other readings across the years, feeling a kind of attachment for her ideas and work I couldn’t seem to access for the others. I sensed it wasn’t solely about her familiarity, but that my First Impression of her long ago had been so favorable, it would undoubtedly overwhelm anyone else appearing with her. Why? Was it the uniqueness of her presentation, way back when…or was it more the nature of first impressions in general? I worked on that question for many days, but kept getting bogged down as my brain struggled to multi-task. I never got completely discouraged, however, sensing that the attempt to understand is itself the kind of exercise my brain needs most.

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Artful Aging

Artful Aging

“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.” —Eleanor Roosevelt  *  *  *  * Wise Aging Workshops, reads the title in a brochure for fall offerings in continuing education. I had a problem deciding if the workshops were meant to be aging themselves, or they were about doing… Continue Reading

Lifeline~

“There are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” ― Ann Landers When I hear someone say they’ve been thrown a lifeline, I picture a round, white floatation device we used to call a ‘lifesaver’ with a line attached to a savior at its other end.… Continue Reading

Recovery Room

Walking up the block away from the East River, it’s hard to see through the soup…fog drifting in and out, clinging to things invisible with wispy wet tendrils. It reminds me of my husband’s brain tumor, and also the endless days of gray near the shore at certain times of the year. You just start to… Continue Reading

On Becoming “Remusicked”

‘Can we review the future?’ What a question. How can you re-view something you can’t see in the first place? Oh, I know there are people who plan their lives around it and wallow in angst or triumph over what they think is coming, but most of us know that’s a waste of time. Being… Continue Reading

Defining Line

It’s a seductive idea, that there could be a ‘line in the sand’ marking an absolute transition from one thing to another. I suppose it’s the absoluteness that’s appealing in a world many have come to think of as murky and ambiguous. I was reminded of the power of that need for definition recently when… Continue Reading