“Write,” she says. “Right Now.”
“Twenty minutes, two hundred words, every day for a week.” Easy—I can do that, I reply to the screen. And I set out writing. Oh, wait. Forgot to set the timer. Now, there we go.
Contrary to my expectations, my mind does not go blank. It keeps churning, tumbling (not unlike the laundry I thought I’d be doing right now, except my neighbors got to it first, and now I get to wait), processing. Random thoughts, desultory, discursive.
To wit: Today is my father’s birthday. I just talked to him, but he was out having dinner when I called, and we did not get to catch up as much as I would have liked. I wanted to chat, but the things I would have said would have upset him. I had a shit day (no, nothing horrible happened—just one of those days when you wake up questioning the validity of your own existence, and everything seems to compound the illusion that you are, in fact, unlovable). Bullshit. I know better. Plenty of people love me and care about my wellbeing. I have much to offer to the world. I have… –Wait, what do I have? A headache, for one. Allergies? Possibly. Alcohol? Could not have kicked in yet. I don’t even drink, let alone drink alone—and yet I just spent $34 on a bottle of Campari and $2 on a bottle of soda to go with it. And made myself one when I got home and discovered that my neighbors were already doing laundry.
Two-hundred and sixty-eight words. Should I stop?
Might as well keep going. This exercise is not unlike the meditation I practice every morning, just sitting there and watching my mind at play. It’s amazing what you can see when you choose to observe the ebb and flow of your own thoughts. You realize just how much mental noise is going on most of the time. If I sit there long enough (and I rarely do), the thoughts either slow down to a manageable, slowly punctuated cadence, or else speed up to the point where I am swept away off my cushion, figuratively, but it might as well be literally. I have a bell timer, and every now and again it does what it’s supposed to: remind me to come back to the now, to the cushion, to my breath, and watch my thoughts dissolve, just like the white foam that is formed at the tip of a wave just before it is reclaimed by the ocean.
Four-hundred and thirty-four words. “Does this count as two days’ worth of writing?”—That would be cheating yourself.” Wait, who asked this question? Clearly, the voices in my head are talking to each other.
Ding, ding, ding: time is up. Until tomorrow, then!
And yes, my head still hurts.