It is night-time. Well, mid evening but as the days grow ever shorter and the night-time lengthens, I keenly feel the change in seasons. The darkness closes around me like a cloak. I am bathed in a puddle of soft, soothing light. Next to my feet a large mug of tea steams, its vapours drawing up the chimney in whispy whirls. A log burns in the grate, crackling and steaming to itself in flames dance. At my side is a notebook, a small bottle of Sloe Wine, and a pipe. I pack the pipe and inhale the spicy aroma of Mugwort smoke. This is soft time. Quiet time. Reflective time. It is the conscious part of the dream-time.
As Autumn deepens, I find myself needing this time with ever greater frequency, until, at the beginning of December, I fall into it completely.
Today was a ‘day off’ – not something I’m particularly good at taking. This particular day off was interspersed with servicing the car, changing a household light fitting, writing 12 more pages of an imminantly completed book, and seeing a patient. Yet I feel bad that I am not returning to working on the book. Worse still that I turn my fingers to type a blog post such as this, when I should be doing something ‘serious’.
Hah! Hell to it. I’ll do it some other time. That is not to say that I am procrastinating; merely that I am being honest. Inspired work flows from my mind in short, sharp, almost spastic jerks. It doesn’t come out as a steady trickle, on tap. Nor, in my opinion should it. I have now written two book-like projects that both manifested from concept to completion in less than two weeks. I reckon I’ve got the measure of how to do it. I also reckon I’ve got the measure of myself enough to be honest with myself in saying ‘no’ to pushing things when they should be left to develop naturally.
Honesty is something that many people don’t practice. They con themselves – and others. I could write a paragraph or two to make myself feel better about not going back to writing… but what would it achieve? A couple of shoddy paragraphs that would take more time to re-work than to do properly in the first place. Yet people do that kind of thing all the time. And their productivity suffers for it. What is being ‘productive’ if you don’t actually produce something worth having?
Like a clockwork toy needs winding up before it will jump into action, this is my winding-time. Winter is in general really. So, I sit. I listen to the sounds of an autumn evening; I listen to the crackling and burble of flame. And I take the time to just ‘be’.
Maybe you should try it too?
Categories: Thoughts From the Herbary