Frog Flow

I could write something now, about, I don't know, being hot or getting that sweet parry-riposte at practice last night or wondering what they're shooting a couple blocks away, but that would mean eating the writing frog and I don't really want to.

I know, I'm a writer (well, a wannabe writer).  I'm supposed to enjoy writing.  And I do, sort of.  But not really.  Not as much as I enjoy, I don't know, reading the new comic books I got a few days ago or lying in bed next to the air conditioner trying not to sweat.

I'm wasting my life if I don't write, I know.  But if I do write?  Well, then, what happens is what happened to me this morning when I sat down to work on the paper that I am presenting at our symposium next week.  One minute it's 9:00am, the next minute it's noon--and I have no memory of even existing during that time.

Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not entirely.  "I" (ironically, given that the topic of the symposium is, wait for it, subjectivity) don't actually exist during the periods that I (whoever that is) am writing.  I know, I know; we're all supposed to be dying (hyperbole intended) to lose ourselves in our work this way, but it occurred to me the other day that perhaps this, oh, shall-we-call-it "flow" is in fact the very thing that inhibits us from eating those goddamned frogs. 

Yes, yes, I know.  It's our pesky egos getting in the way, and we all know how stupid it is to want to hold onto those.  Egos, schmegos.  Monkey minds, all.  The only way to have any meaningful, fulfilling experiences is to shut those simian buggers down, swallow that frog and just do it. 

Except that there is a price.  Namely, our consciousness.  Our awareness, if you will.  Our attention.  In other words, the single most valuable thing that we have.*  Our life, as we know it.  Or don't--once we have given our attention to something other than the flow of our thoughts.  Because, of course, stream of consciousness as posts like this are, I am still paying attention to something external: the words that I am trying to spell, the grammatical structure of my sentences, whether what I am saying makes any sense.  I may be writing what I'm thinking, but I'm not really.

It's even worse when I am writing about something that is not my thoughts but, for example, trying to explain somebody else's.  Then I have to both look at my thoughts about the work I am reading and think about what it is that the author is trying to say--and then rewrite those thoughts and that argument such that my audience can follow what I think while at the same time getting the gist of the original author's intent.  No wonder I have no memory of this morning: I was several times removed from "me".

It's different "losing oneself in a book," as they say.  Putting on other characters.  Feeling the feelings that they feel.  Certainly, it's more pleasurable in the sense of "relaxing" not to have to make decisions about what to do next, simply "going with the flow" (sorry, that's another cliché), but it's more like being John Malkovich by slipping into his mind.**  You're there along for the ride, but somebody else is still steering.

Writing (or fencing or eating any other substantive frog) is exactly the opposite.  There you are, having to make all of the decisions, every one of which could eventuate in a mistake.  Certainly, it's absorbing, but at what risk?  Failure, disappointment, having to face the reality that, yes, you suck.  Curiously, since it isn't really you who is doing anything, is it?  Not now that your self-absorbed monkey mind is dead.

I have no idea who has been writing this post (it can't be that damned egotistic monkey, she wants to be reading the comic books), but look, here it is.  I didn't even feel like writing, and now I have almost 700 words.  Stupid flow frogs.  They'll get you every time.

*I'm pretty sure there's a quotation lurking here, but I can't recall it.  Anybody?
**Whom I met once in a local toy store and then embarrassed my husband by talking to about the play we had just seen him (that is, Mr. Malkovich) in.  What can I say?  I was pregnant at the time; I clearly wasn't myself.

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