So, I’m sitting at the local Panera Bread thinking about what sort of post I’m going to write this week, and the only thing that’s making my brain work is the couple that is sitting sort of diagonally to me across the restaurant. They’re a college-age couple, very obviously on a date. The guy’s body language is open, inviting. The girl’s body language is a little coy, playfully interesting without being all-out flirtatious. After the guy brought the food back, he looked like he was praying briefly…”giving thanks,” I imagine…and she was respectfully quiet, but stole a curious glance at him for something he said, then smiled and closed her eyes again quickly. When he looked down at his meal before starting to eat, she slipped her chewing gum out of her mouth and secreted it into a napkin completely incognito from his awareness. I can’t help but smile. They’re a cute couple.
Before you start thinking I’m weird, let me say that any writer or actor or painter or anyone else of a creative bent is always observing those around them…seeing people, watching interactions, analyzing mannerisms. Creativity comes from the stuff around us, from the people around us. We’re surrounded by our inspiration constantly. The problem is, we stop to really observe it so infrequently that we’re sort of surprised at the depth of it when we do.
At least, that’s the unfortunate pattern into which I feel myself lapse. This afternoon I found myself with the much-coveted opportunity to slow down and have a quiet 30 minutes. I had time to read, to stop and think about what I had read, to let my thoughts wander. Now, at the risk of sounding mystic (not that I’m opposed to that), I felt so much more connected to the life around me. People, animals, even flora and fauna. Not that I was experiencing a pantheistic euphoria, but instead I had just had enough space and quiet to allow the things that are dulled into the background by a hectic life to return to the foreground. As always, I re-discover that the foreground is, in fact, their rightful place.
That pleasant state of mind and awareness was broken all too quickly when I once again had somewhere to be, and life intruded afresh as I navigated through traffic, listening to the voice of my GPS instruct me as to where I should turn, and worked on beating the deadlines of things to complete before arriving at home in time to prepare for guests…you get the idea.
Tonight, however, now that I find myself again with a few moments to spare, I am still much more aware of what and who is around me than I was this morning. This is the stuff from which creativity flows, because it is life…and creativity is about life, and portraying it in its comedy and its tragedy. That life is what gets lost in the rush of our day to day, because we stop seeing the forest for the proverbial trees. Then, when we pause to realize just how cool the trees are, we’re stunned as though we’ve never experienced them before.
So, my hope for you this week is that you find a shockingly quiet moment or two. I imagine that, if you do, the things with which you find yourself busy will come out the beneficiaries for that, as well.