Saturday, May 16, 2009

I Have One Word For You--Birdhouse

I blew off all kinds of responsibilities to go hiking today, hitting four state forests in nine and a half or ten hours. The work never stops, though, because during one of my turns to drive (I read when I'm not driving--don't know where I am or what's going on) I noticed these bizarre tall poles along the side of the road in front of two houses. On the top of the poles were a variety of little wooden birdhouses. (Or they appeared to be wood from the road.) They didn't look very functional. The word "decor" comes to mind.

They'll be going into the 365 Story Project in a couple of weeks.

I am grateful to have come up with an idea that I'm quite certain I can use for a handful of segments. But I can't help but wonder--I was on the road or in the woods for around nine hours. Why the birdhouses? Why did that become an idea and not something else?

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Monday, May 28, 2007

The Power of Walking

I just start reading Chi Walking again, which I first began last fall. I was on a treadmill and stationary bike binge this past winter, and, since I read when I'm on those pieces of equipment, I really don't care about chi so I gave up the book. But the weather here in southern New England has been fantastic these past two weeks, and the road has been calling me. So I'm outdoors walking, which led me back to the walking book.

Now, if I'm understanding this chi walking thing correctly, it involves mindful walking and focusing your mind. And engaging your core. If I'm going to engage my core while walking, I'm going to have to focus my mind.

Here's the thing, though: walking is also good for creativity, for forcing breakout experiences. When you find yourself blocked with writing or some other kind of mind problem, if you can release your mind while doing some kind of automatic physical activity, you'll often BAM! have some kind of freaky epiphany that is, at least, the beginning of a solution if not a complete solution.

When I was writing A Year with Butch and Spike, I used to just get up and take off up the street in the middle of the day trying to force a breakout experience. Though I hadn't heard of the term at that point, I sure knew the experience.

So this afternoon I'm reading a bit of the chi book and worrying that if I'm walking along doing all this focusing, I'm never going to have breakout experiences, which I rather desperately need or I'd never finish writing anything. After dinner this evening, I went for a walk, focusing on keeping my core engaged, leading with the upper part of my body, and keeping the trunk of my body in the shape of a C. I got to the end of the street, noticed that that nasty little dog that was barking at me this morning wasn't out, and turned around to head home.

BAM! I had not one, but two breakout experiences (or perhaps we should just say thoughts) relating to The Durand Cousins. I was still quite a way from the house and worried sick that I was going to forget them. Which meant, of course, that I was no longer focusing on my core. But I got home and since we had three computers up and running most of the day, I was able to find a free one and make some notes.

The chi walking guy says that learning to focus on your walk will teach you to focus on other things in your life. God knows, I would love to see that happen. Of course, I've been hoping for something like that to happen with the taekwondo classes, and I've been doing that for nearly five years with no substantial decrease in the amount of time I waste on-line and playing solitaire each day.

Still, I'm a self-improvement junky. Nothing excites me like something new to try, even if it only relates to cleaning the shower or organizing the pantry. And with this new walking program, we're talking chi!