Relearning how to write

In the woods, while hiking, my mind diverging from the trail, I came to a realization about one of the greatest challenges to writers (including myself). We are simply too big. Vague statement? Simple statement? I guess it’s both, though perhaps more seemingly nonsensical than either.

Yes, I mean that we are too big in the physical sense. Children don’t struggle with imagination like us (assuming, of course, that I have only adult readers). Why is that though? Is it the common argument that, as adults, responsibilities ground our imaginations where once they soared unfettered? Sure. But there is more.

The idea struck me as I walked in typical stride, and I must say that my stride is not terribly long for an adult. But my stride is terribly long for a child. My eyes are terribly high for a child. My fingers don’t even graze tops of the May Apple shoots. But for a child they are a forest within a forest. Dream of what it’s like to see the tree tops at eye level.

And here we as writers must fight our very bodies that work against us. Our perspectives are limited by our bodies, our minds bounded by our experience. We must change our perspective if we are to find new ideas, new words, new worlds. To do that, we must change how we experience the world via our bodies. That could mean slowing down our pace or speeding it up; it could mean looking up while hiking or watching the ground instead of looking straight ahead. The world cannot be linear. Too often we have allowed our perspectives to stop growing, and shrinking, when our bodies did.

Changing perspectives makes even the most familiar foreign, new. A child does not have the burden of familiarity and so is creative as extension of knowing little and the fluidity of any gained knowledge as their bodies continue to grow along with their minds. What we need to realize is that nothing has changed. All we know is from our own perspective.

Now, I realize that our bodies also by proxy limit the number of perspectives we can physically take on. But merely considering a perspective may be enough. Every thought is a seed of imagination. I will never be a giant but I can feel the tree tops through their lower branches. I will never be a samurai but I can learn Bushido by holding a katana. Time and reality cannot incarcerate our minds, arrest wonder, shackle imagination.


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