Being largely restricted to our homes for weeks at a time can cause us to feel restless. Though there are many reasons why this is the case, one reason especially so is that we are more exposed to ourselves. By this, I mean our incessant thoughts, and that is what I would like to focus on in this post; why writing should be a companion to thought, and how that can lead us toward a greater understanding of ourselves and our situation.
The Nature of Thought
Writing is the physical manifestation of thought. It takes the abstract, your thoughts which exist only in your mind, and makes it real, something that exists in the world concretely, giving it form and the ability to be referenced later and even, if desired, by people other than yourself. It is really quite remarkable when you think about it. In this way, writing memorializes thought.
Thoughts are fleeting things. Who knows where they come from and where they go after they appear briefly in our minds? Yet for a moment, they are there in our mind, wild and uncontrollable. Like someone running through a field of wildflowers with a net trying to catch butterflies, so are we with our thoughts. Some we are able to net by immortalizing them with paper and pen, but most escape our net and are gone as quickly as they appeared.
There are so many butterflies though, we hardly know which ones to pay attention to, so we must from time to time grab our net and capture some butterflies no matter their pattern and color. Who knows what beauty will result? A new idea, perspective, insight which can all lead toward greater understanding of something. So it is in this way that writing is a midwife to understanding.
Understanding By Doing
There is something that happens, I cannot say how, when one writes. Something about giving form to the abstract allows for other thoughts to appear that might not have otherwise. Like brush strokes a painter might not have intended or anticipated but gives a certain something to the painting, a certain je ne sais quoi, the indescribable!
It is how when taking action with your body, say dancing, singing or sport, that in the doing, and only because there is doing, that something unforeseen and maybe even brilliant happens; an inspired performance. With football (soccer) for example, the beautiful game, how do many of the most brilliant goals happen? There is always a plan, a strategy and starting place, but it is in the doing that the brilliant and unplanned moment happens; this can never be rehearsed.
This is what can sometimes happen when we write; it is purpose combined with improvisation, but this only happens by doing. I think this process actually happens better when the person is writing with paper and pen rather than on a computer. There is a tactile connection with the tangible and the slower speed of hand writing allows the time for ideas to emerge. This is true for me but maybe not so for others; use what works best for you. And the point is, of course, that all of this leads to greater understanding.
And Now, Your Moment!
During this time of isolation, pick up the pen and give voice to some of those thoughts in your head. It is important that you do so. When sadness invites itself into the living room of your mind, though it is hard, write about it, make it manifest, and let it be exposed to the light of day. When there is joy and you are enraptured, write about it, so that it may be shared with others or reflect on later by yourself for encouragement, and let it be brilliant in the light of day.
But write about it, for there are unknown insights that will emerge because of the process, leading to greater understanding, I guarantee it.