loose ends and touchstones

public domain from wikimedia

Reader, I’m at loose ends. There are boxes (which, I have learned, if you just close up even though they are not quite empty, look much less menacing in the interim). There are hungry children. There are two weeks left of school. There is a cake walk on Friday(!). I have two manuscripts to read for fellow poets. I have reading to do for class. I have stacks of poems half-finished. I have 38 unread e-mails (how does this happen? It’s like they breed at night!). There are two blank weeks in my writing calendar, and the next blank week starts today.

When I sat down at my desk this morning, I knew not where to begin. I flailed around — a little bit of this, a little bit of that, three items written on my writing calendar for this week, one of which was cake walk(!).

(I pause here to say, yes: I realize the cake walk has taken on an unreasonable amount of mental energy. Still, there it is.)

What to do in the face of loose ends? Then I remembered the thing I can always do when I don’t know where to begin: Morning reading and writing.

Yes, if nothing else, I can crack open a book of poems, read at least one, grab a phrase or an idea, and fill a blank page in my notebook with whatever flows from the pen. No rules, no pressure, just writing.

Thank goodness for touchstones.

Did you know the term touchstone comes from the process of rubbing a particular type of stone with gold to test its purity?

When I don’t know where to begin or what else to do, I read, then write. It reminds me of who I am, what I do, and where my writing originates.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say everyone needs a touchstone or two in their lives. What’s yours?

6 thoughts on “loose ends and touchstones

  1. I go a tad domestic when lost or seeking balance. I bake or cook, I’ll organize a closet, clean with wild abandon, or turn to making something with my hands. I generally prefer those things that require my attention but not so much that balance problem is gone. Instead, it fades to the background and is worked on subtly and quietly in the small spaces of my mind instead of yelling loudly in consciousness. My little tasks become like whispers to a crying child. I whisper with my hands to calm my racing brain. Plus, clean house and fresh cookies are instantly grounding. 🙂

    Best of luck with the cakewalk. Remember the name and breathe!

    • Yes – great strategies! I like the way you put it… that the problem is “worked on subtly and quietly in the small spaces of my mind.” Could not agree more about cookies 🙂

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