Tuesday, February 7, 2012

On Feeding That Feed




One time I had a boyfriend who wrote 365 songs in 365 days. Everyday, among other things, he would write a new song, perform it, record it, and upload it onto his website. He had a file on his desktop called "fodder." Every time he had an idea or a word or an image he wanted to explore, he'd type it into that file. I didn't even know what fodder meant before those days. Turns out, it has two definitions; the second defines it as "inferior material used to supply a heavy demand." The first definition is "coarse food for cattle, horses or sheep." "Geez," little vegan me squirms, this is EXACTLY the food that's really hard on the earth. I agree with my ex though, writing and recording a song a day is a heavy demand, albeit one he put on himself.

Fast forward to now: I write every Tuesday and Thursday. I'm no semi-famous musician, but you're reading this stuff. (Hi!) As it turns out, I have a little file of my own which I FEED with ideas for days when I wake up and have no clue.

On feeding that feed: I NEVER put anything in that file on days I'm running from one thing to the next. Nope. Doesn't happen on laundry day when I'm paying my credit card bill and taking the out the compost on my way to therapy. The fodder only gets fed on the days I do NOTHING, or maybe, just a few things to be nice to myself. Things like: going for a walk without a destination, checking out that old church, leaving the house just to get a decaf mocha, or stopping by my friend Charles' shop just to say, "Hey," no pun intended.

I was blessed to hear Ann Patchett speak at a friend's graduation once. She talked about what she does, being a novelist: NOTHING and lots of staring, "I waited eleven years before marrying my husband. I just couldn't imagine living in a house with another person when so much of my life was spent sprawled across the sofa, staring at the ceiling, saying nothing at all."

So this is what everybody's talking about when they say we are human beings, not human doings. And I thought I got it. But, wow, I never knew until now just how nourishing nothing could be.

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