I often think that kids are too entertained. My childhood was perfectly boring most of the time, and yet it gave me enough material to blog about week after week – and I’m mostly cherry picking happy stories. What will today’s kids blog about when they spend their days glued to TVs?
One time a friend and I were talking, and I said that kids don’t spend any time in contemplation. Or maybe I said reflection, meditation, rumination, or something when her son popped out of his video game long enough to ask for a definition of the word. We described it as having time to think about things in a quiet way. “Yeah, I don’t want any of that!” he said, and went back to his video game. We all laughed because he was funny, but I still hold to my original point. We need quiet time to reflect.
I looked at “underwater” and thought about my perfectly boring childhood by the river, and thought that I have too many choices to just pick one. There was the time my sister got caught under the ice, or when my brother almost drowned in a lake, or when the ice broke in the spring and the water rose so fast I had to turn around and run to get away from it. There was the year the whole Glen was underwater in the spring flood, or the year the neighbor drowned by the dam, or the other neighbor committing suicide off the bridge and laid facedown in the river until my sister turned him over. Or, when I read in a book about a spy breathing underwater through a hollow reed and I found my own reed and spied on teenaged boys – but the teenaged boys were kind of dull and I went off to catch crayfish or something instead.
Maybe if I’d had playmates I wouldn’t care about reflecting time, but since I had more time than I knew what to do with, I spent a lot of time thinking about stuff and observing. I also had the freedom to run around and find stuff to observe since I wasn’t bothered with pre or post school scheduling and my parents severely limited TV time.
I picked up a long blue heron plume from the water one day and stuck it in my hat and felt like D’Artagnan. I posed for my niece, and she complained that I always find all the good stuff. I told her that it comes from looking. See how the water moves? See how things collect at certain places? Rocks and heavy things will land there, and feathers and light things will land here. Fish will collect beneath that rotten log leaning over that still water, and it’s a waste of time to cast into the fast current unless you let the current take your hook to where the fish live.
I talked to my mom once about intuition, and she wondered whether or not intuition is really just observation. There might be some truth to that even though I don’t think it fully explains everything. I noticed that my boss’ color was bad the morning she died. She was a little gray-yellow, and had on a lot of makeup. Nobody else noticed, and it didn’t tell me that she was about to die, but it did explain something to me once she was gone. No one else noticed the color of her skin because they didn’t spend so many boring hours looking at water sliding by.
Observing is a big part of art, but it’s an art in itself. The more you look, the more you see, and the more things you see, the more it informs your life and improves relationships. Or helps you catch fish and find the best feathers.