17 January, 2012
You Become What You Think About All Day Long
I saw this Ralph Waldo Emerson reference for the first time the other day, and – as with most quotes from the big RWE – it struck a chord with me.
Taken literally, if we are what we think about all day long, then I should be a club sandwich of all my favourite people with melted cheese on top (come on, we all think about cheese a lot) and served in a bag of music. Obviously I am not this. Although on a day to day basis these are literally the people, things and dairy produce that occupy my mind, what our man I think is actually referring to are the integral instincts that run deeper within us.
For me, I have a few soul cruxes and the longest standing is probably writing. I used to draw when I was little and have in recent years taken up running in a big way, but writing has been there from the day I understood how to hold a pen (with my hands.)
Writing has always been something I have turned to in moments of sadness, anger, elation and everything in between. It has been a light when the rest of my world has felt dark (literally sometimes when typing on laptop in power cut) and it has for me been how I’ve consolidated everything I’m thinking and feeling, so that I can go about the rest of my life pretty happily.
However, as most people’s lives do at various stages, mine has recently undergone a series of swift yet substantial changes which have left me thinking about new people, places and day to day things, and consequently I slightly lost a grip on the concepts which had defined me and that I’d come to depend on for a long time – writing included.
Brave new world
When my new world consumed me, or rather I threw myself into it, I found I had less and less time for my blog and other written outlets. Consequently a sense of panic rose up, growing and growing with every passing week that my writing itch was not scratched. Eventually writing fell off the radar completely until I ended 2011 feeling like I had slightly lost sight of something that at one point had been so key to my existence.
The changes in my life were infinitely and undoubtedly positive, and so the corresponding sense of displacement was one I couldn’t understand or put any real meaning to. That is until I saw the above 7 words, strung so perfectly together by my all time favourite philosopher.
Reading them, I realised that as people we cling to our daily thoughts and activities to validate ourselves and so to lose touch with certain elements of our lifestyle can leave us feeling lost, no matter how insignificant we had previously deemed these elements to be and no matter what new, wonderful things might have replaced them. However, inspired by Emerson I realised that although we may not always be actively doing or thinking on them, our unique endeavours are still very much an integral part of who or what we are and what we ultimately become.
The very fact that I have been unconsciously thinking about writing, dreaming about writing and wishing about writing (sometimes indeed all day long) during my absence from my pretty pink laptop, means that I am still that – a writer. It is engrained in me and a few months away from the physicality of it doesn’t take away from that.
“Great dancers aren’t great because of their technique; they are great because of their passion.”
You might be a new parent who no longer has time for their work, you might be a musician who hasn’t picked up their instrument in a while, you might be a craftsman temporarily unemployed – it doesn’t matter if we don’t have time for the things we love for a few days, weeks, months or sometimes even years, because when something we're passionate about is so deeply engrained in our souls, it never really goes away.
Ironically, at the same time I relaxed about my literal writers block, I was inspired and suddenly had the mental space to let ideas come to me. I found myself scrawling down words on the back of a bank statement on a crowded train with a broken pen, and my whole self breathed a sigh of relief.
I am so looking forward to writing a bit more again and hopefully producing some engaging reads, but if time goes by that I don’t manage to squeeze it in or my creativity dries up for a while, I’m not going to freak THE HELL OUT. So thank you RWE, you are nothing short of my hero!