>> Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another bedtime whispered conversation, and he tells me about Casey's funny joke, a silly story and he laughs telling it. And then he's on to another story about Mekhi and how he couldn't find the hidden key even though it was right in front of him, and that he was laughing so hard his chest hurt, that he had never before laughed so hard that his chest hurt.

And then he stops and says -- when I think of things, it always makes me think of other things.

When I was a kid I would sit in church and let my train of thought chug on down the track. After ten minutes or so, I'd stop and wonder how on earth I got there. Then I'd backtrack, thought by thought, until I got back to whatever started the whole thing off. I loved it when I could trace it all the way back, it was fun to see those connections, to notice the movement of my own mind.

It's like a spiral, he told me. In my head, this is what it looks like: the thing I'm thinking of is a line, and then the next thing I think of spirals down from the line like this, he tells me, drawing in the air. And then another thing spirals up from the line. That's what it looks like in my head when I think of things. I wish I could connect a tube from my head to your head so you could see exactly what I'm seeing in my head.

He doesn't have to. I know exactly what he means.

I've never told him about spirals, about how in my writing practice we talk about how that's the path our brains take when we ruminate or tell our stories, when we let them run their courses without our resistance or inner-editors getting in the way. That we start close in, and we go, we travel out far and wide, spanning out to the reaches and then without even trying, we cycle on back to where we started, yet we're in a different place. Sometimes we spiral out, gaining a wider perspective as we go. Other times we work inward to the heart of things. The point being that our stories aren't linear. Sure, there's a beginning, middle, and end; but the ending is really just another beginning, and it often looks a whole lot like the place from where we originally started.

A couple of years ago, before I was blogging, before my writing practice, I was reading an essay on writing and the arts, and the author remarked how even when writers aren't writing, they still think like writers. They observe themselves having a thought, there's a narration of sorts running parallel to their experience. When I read that, my heart zinged. I hadn't known that anyone else's brain worked that way. The only way I had ever tried to describe it to anyone was almost confessional. Wondering if I was a weirdo of some kind, I told my husband, Sometimes I think like I write. I just start describing things in my head - my setting, my thoughts and feelings -- with words I would never use in conversation, but rather the way I would write it. It wasn't until that moment when I read the essay that I realized that that's how writers think. How our brains work.

When I was a little kid, I often heard voices. They weren't scary, because they were my voices, and I knew they were mine, even at 8 years old. But I knew it was weird and I think I only tried to explain it to someone once before I realized that perhaps that was something I ought to keep to myself. I had forgotten about the voices until just now, as I write this post.

That he recognizes the way his mind moves, that he observes himself thinking, that he can track it, that he visualizes the path as a spiral, makes my heart zing. He is not a mini-me, he is himself. But I understand him, I get his brain. And I absolutely delight in his beautiful spirals.


Jacki December 16, 2010 at 1:42 PM  

OMG. I thought I was crazy. I thought I was the only one! I have always loved to write. It has always been therapeutic for me. I used to write a lot more. Now I'm out of practice and I don't think I am as good of a writer as I used to be. I wrote for newspaper in high school and I have notebook upon notebook filled. I have a blog too but I get really nervous when I write there.
When I don't write the thoughts are like never ending. Is it like that for you? Writing is a release. It gives my mind a break!

Thank u for this post!!!

KathyJoy,  December 16, 2010 at 2:46 PM  

Love it! And love you guys!

Adventures In Babywearing December 16, 2010 at 4:07 PM  

I definitely get this and especially the part of seeing your crazy in your kids (sorry- that's what I call it- I'll never forget the euphoria I felt when I realized it in Noah... I was breathless, noticing my crazy in him... it is a very good thing. :)

Also, there's just something about when people "get" you. So when you truly get your kids, and they get you. WOWzers.


Corinne December 16, 2010 at 6:23 PM  

I'm sitting here nodding my head like crazy!! I love backtracking and figuring out how my mind got to where it is... and I love the thinking like a writer bit - even when we're not writing.
Yes yes yes :)

swonderful December 16, 2010 at 7:53 PM  

oh, i get this! i get your brain, his brain, i get it. even when i was tiny i thought about things much like i do now. it's good to be reminded of that, and to not underestimate and how smart and conceptually intelligent kids can be.

Anonymous,  December 17, 2010 at 8:37 AM  

Thanks for sharing your nighttime murmerings with the rest of us - what an articulate, creative and sparkly son you have there! No wonder! Love, Anastasia

Jo@Mylestones December 17, 2010 at 12:26 PM  

I remember reading that essay (the one you recommended and of course I loved) and underlining the exact same passage you referenced here. And I remember thinking, "Hooray! I'm not a complete mental case!"
Love you and your spiral brain.

Daniegirl December 17, 2010 at 5:38 PM  

I embrace my desire to
I embrace my desire to
feel the rhythm, to feel connected enough to step aside and weep like a widow
to feel inspired to fathom the power, to witness the beauty,
to bathe in the fountain,
to swing on the spiral
to swing on the spiral
to swing on the spiral of our divinity and still be a human.

With my feet upon the ground I move myeslf between the sounds and open wide to suck it in.
I feel it move across my skin.
I'm reaching up and reaching out. I'm reaching for the random or what ever will bewilder me.
what ever will bewilder me.
And following our will and wind we may just go where no one's been.
We'll ride the spiral to the end and may just go where no one's been.
Spiral out. Keep going.
Spiral out. Keep going.
Spiral out. Keep going.
Spiral out. Keep going.
Spiral out. Keep going.


Sometimes, I think my heart's a spiral. :) Your little man is amazing.

deb December 17, 2010 at 6:53 PM  

thank you for putting words to some of my crazy.

miriam December 18, 2010 at 1:52 PM  

Excellent. And to all you commenters, not crazy at all - totally, organically, perfectly normal. : )

krista December 19, 2010 at 9:32 PM  

i see things in finn that remind me of me as a kid..wait, i even wrote about this today. good lord, woman, it's like we share a brain sometimes!

Juniper December 21, 2010 at 10:56 PM  

I would not consider myself a writer but I can relate to what you wrote about in your post. I have been an avid reader since I started and I can't help but write journals and long letters to those close to me. Sometimes I feel like through my days and experiences I am always collecting, collecting impressions of a place, a sound a smell, or a particular moment, very often its people a person and the lilt of their chin or the composition of their approach to life. Always for later, one day I dream about putting them down somewhere- write a book or two when I am old, retired and the children have all grown and gone. I will put it all to paper, hitch hiking through the arctic in the dark of winter, treking wih a drunken exile through barren mountaintops in the Northern reaches of the Himalayas and now here a whole slew of characters right here in our run down alley in Malta! Life is fascinating and always showing new curiosities and wonders, I think perhaps a writers mind enjoys noticing and trying to share these. But on a lighter note- your post also made me think of this -

Kristen @ Motherese December 23, 2010 at 2:49 PM  

I love the way you describe your spirals and his. I too understand what he means and I always appreciate it when someone else - even, and maybe especially, a little someone else - gives words to something I've known forever, but never stopped to express.

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I'm a realistic optimist who relies on raw honesty and plenty of humor to navigate the boystorm that is my life. I am mother to three and wife to one. These are my stories.

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