# of pages written: 4
# of times checked email/facebook: 10
# of days left to write a first draft: 159
This morning after breakfast Nikki and I did a walking meditation on one of the paths in Nickerson State Park. This was her description of the activity, of course. I might have called it a hike in which we didn’t talk. It had been raining earlier, so the forest was wet and green, and the tree leaves hung heavy over our heads. A crow followed us for a bit, cawing loudly and balancing on dead tree branches like a tightrope-walker in a black cape.
Since we weren’t talking, I couldn’t say things I would normally say on a hike, like “Wow! Look at that crazy tree!” or “Oh my gosh, I love crows!” But even though I wasn’t saying anything out loud, I was still saying everything inside my head. There was a nonstop stream of thoughts crowding my brain, so much so that I found I was thinking about a podcast I’d heard on moss instead of noticing and appreciating the actual moss softly spreading over the roots of a nearby tree.
I knew Nikki was trying to meditate and clear all the words from her head, but I thought maybe I SHOULD be thinking in words. After all, I’m a writer. I should be cataloging every experience for use in a future story in which the main character finds herself walking briskly through a damp forest trail. She saw a dead tree that had fallen, landing against a stronger tree like a fainting woman. The air smelled of campfire and Christmas trees. She wondered if the crow was following them for a reason – did he have a message for her?
This is silly, Eva, I told myself after awhile. Just walk and enjoy the woods. You don’t have to narrate it. So I tried, after that, to let go of the words in my head. But that, of course, is much easier said that done.
It all made me think about the essay I’ve been writing about words. How important are they, really? Are there times when I should let go of the words and hope that they will find their way back to me when I need them? Can we find knowledge and understanding of the world without words? I should be able to just walk on a path and let my eyes take in the sights without having to constantly name and comment and narrate. I should trust that the experience itself will sink into my brain, and that I will be able to access it later and give it words when the time comes. When I got back to Nikki’s house, all I could think about was words, so I finished my essay on the subject, and here it is: