Stepping out of the Waters
Though I live in Colorado I grew up near oceans. Surfing them might be one of my greatest pleasures. There’s plenty of mystery that seems endless when at play in the ocean. That said I have a friend from the Texas Panhandle who doesn’t like the ocean because of that mystery. He once said, “There’s just so much happening underneath the water that you can’t see. That creeps me out.” I’ve had my share of things brush a legs, snip at my toes, and seen a fin or two break the surface while riding a wave, but I do so enjoy those waters still.
As a Writer and Editor I tend to swim in oceans of words on a regular basis. Like swimming in the actual ocean, it can be exhilarating, fun, challenging and eventually wear me out to the point that if I do not step out of the waters and onto dry land, I will drown from exhaustion.
I recall an epic day surfing with a friend in Southern California, wherein we were in the water for upwards of 8 hours or so with only a momentary respite to grab a snack and hydrate before heading out until sunset. Towards the end of the day my arms were so noodle-like from paddling past breaks to the line-up that I chose carefully the waves I rode knowing the journey back out would be that much more daunting. Eventually, I grabbed a good long ride to solid ground, spent. My friend already exhausted, sat in the sand with a ten-mile gaze. As we drove to the closest In-n-Out for fuel he asked that we take the next day off. And so we did. We played at being tourists, riding rollercoasters and taking pictures after sleeping in ‘till mid-morning. The following day, we were back at the ocean at sunrise, gearing to go.
Recently, I have been swimming in a lot of words. Between editing, writing for a publication, content-writing, crafting contracts, researching topics for the various writing gigs, and the small bit of pleasure reading I manage to squeeze in amidst it all, my brain felt like my arms on that epic day – noodled. I woke up on Saturday and just couldn’t read another word, write another sentence. I was like the drained moan of car battery with no more juice left to start the engine.
So I did the equivalent of a tourist-day. I watched movies. I cleaned the car. Fixed things. All which required no real creative or cognitive process. By Sunday, I was still zonked, though. I finished season one of “Downton Abbey.” I played some games. But the real jewel was changing the strings on my guitar, oiling the wood, tying on new strings and playing. I played until my fingers were too sore, and the sun had set without me even noticing, leaving me in the candlelight. I played songs I hadn’t picked in years, though my fingers hadn’t forgotten. I lost my ten-mile gaze and felt more than just my brain wake up.
The battery recharged, the brain was no longer exhausted. I was ready for another dive into the ocean, exploring and playing once again, partly out of work and yet also out of desire. The creative mind needs a breather once in awhile as much as any other part of us. The benefits of play for play’s sake. We can all drown in the oceans we swim – be them actual or metaphorical - if we don’t take some time to step out, feel solid ground under our feet, and enjoy the pleasure of playing in a different kind of environment, sometimes doing nothing at all.