I did not immediately recognize the connection between the way I dry laundry and the way I write. There is a bit of forever about the time it takes damp laundry to dry in a subtropical climate. As well, for some time I have been content to let my sentences grow at will. For both, time seemed not of the essence.
Repeatedly, I assured myself that sentences would be trimmed, ordered. Some words would not survive the page, as always. Laundry would find a fold or a hanger in a drawer or closet. Well, of course.
Impermanence does wend its way through laundry as easily as it does through words. Yet, I suspected I was trying to catch it on a shirt or in a sentence, trying to hold a moment longer than it lasts.
Laundry does dry, and if it is a high plains desert climate— a mile high and more— it dries quickly, reflecting the scratchy, arid climate. The soft, pliable cloth of a subtropical climate leaves just a hint of moisture.
Regardless, a moment lasts only a moment– a routine of no routine–endless and timeless. It is for me to work with the reality I experience as it presents itself. It is the stuff of choices.
I decide the laundry will finish drying on my love seat, recliner, and every available piece of furniture/doorknob. I save $1.25 in quarters but it seems I always receive more than I give.
Feline EmmaRose revels in “laundry days.” At less than 5 pounds, she can sneak in, under, over and around almost any piece of laundry. It gives her such joy to explore her landscape in a new way.
Her joy is not lost on me. I am aware of words left here and there in moments already passed.
As ill as I have been this past year, most of my writing has been recording details and research. Deliberately, I was not attaching any feelings to those events. That would come later.
Yet, the laundry did dry as later passed. Both laundry and words were taking up space that EmmaRose and I do not have. We share two rooms and a bath. We’re full up.
As I folded laundry, I reached for a pair of socks, a Christmas gift. One sock is a list of banned books; the other is the world with those words, peaceful and rebellious.
A moment lasts only a moment, long enough for the world to change, and there is nothing comfortable in that. The comfort comes in recognizing we, too, are capable of change.
The laundry can only lie around so long. And so it is with writing.
Physically, the way I am able to write is both new and old. I’m no longer sure what tool will be required on any given day. It is its own routine of no routine, as it always has been.
If the “obstacle is the path,” and I suspect it is, a broader perspective can only mean another way to view the obstacle. A new angle, requiring new tools as well as new ways to use old tools.
I no longer type to write–mostly–I use voice recognition software. I decided it is more important to use my hands for chopping vegetables, picking up a capsule/tablet, and measuring a half milliliter of liquid prednisone in a syringe for EmmaRose.
There are no medications for my motor control, hyper-reflex, and nerve damage issues. My mind-body works with each signal or lack of signal. It is a lesson in letting go.
Some kind of sensation is evident in my fingers and thumbs, different and worth exploring. It is as if through the gnarled roots of tingling/grittiness/numbness, there is life.
In using voice recognition software, my thoughts— air abstractions—become concrete representations through speech, a tool once reserved for conversation. It is a new role. This, too, feels like life.
The physical sensation of fingers on a keyboard is a different creative process than speaking those same thoughts. One is halting, dependent upon a stroke or even a missed key; the other is expansive, born free of grammar, ever ready to roam.
And then there are completely new tools. When I updated my voice recognition software, I received a Digital Voice Tracer. It transcribes my thoughts/research notes into a text document. It is remarkably accurate.
The Tracer will fit in any outstretched hand or most any pocket. It takes up just a little space on the nightstand, ready to capture ideas as they occur. Well, almost. There is always that moment in between.
It is more than I was able to do before, once again.
And I have returned to using a chalkboard, 35 x 23. I suspect I still cling to a physical way of writing; the chalkboard provides connection. Ultimately, what is written in chalk dust finds its way to my laptop through my digital voice tools.
Like EmmaRose, I, too, enjoy a change in the landscape of our apartment. I sit on the floor with chalk and my board, drawing connections between pieces of writing. I get another visual of words working together.
I had given up this practice of sitting on the floor with my chalkboard. But in viewing my obstacle from a new angle, solutions once unlikely, reappear. Like walking in the air, it just a matter of taking the first step.
Of course, the chalkboard is great for hanging laundry. As one set of thoughts turns to dust, another lies in wait. It is never-ending.