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Stroll, Interrupted

Just so I wouldn’t be stuck inside blogging all day, I thought I’d go out for a walk in the park near my apartment building.  It was reportedly 60 degrees out, which I figured would be comfortable enough.  But it was cloudy and windy, so it wasn’t that comfy.  And despite that, this being a Sunday afternoon, the park was more crowded than I’m comfortable with.  So it ended up being an extremely brief walk — despite which I still managed to step in something unfortunate and probably canine-related.  My shoes are soaking in shallow water in the tub now.

But that’s okay.  It’s still a nice little park.  When it’s not too crowded, I like to go there to think about my writing projects.  I’ve had lots of good ideas and insights there.  A lot of what’s written in my published fiction was “written” in my head at the park first.  (I keep thinking I should get some kind of portable dictation recorder thingy, since sometimes I come up with something great in my head and then can’t exactly remember it later.  I’ve never quite been able to afford the indulgence, though.)

I like to be in motion when I think.  In the past, in my old neighborhoods, I liked to take long walks along many different paths to help keep my thoughts fresh.  I often associated a particular stretch of sidewalk with a particular set of thoughts and vice-versa.  Kind of like how that Greek orator (name escapes me) recommended memorizing a speech using a mental map of your house, walking through it as you went.  There’s a passage in my first novel, Star Trek: Ex Machina, where Spock says the following:

I recalled that my mother frequently enjoys taking walks around the city — generally at night, when the temperatures are more amenable to a human — in order to, as she puts it, ‘spend some time with her thoughts.’ To me, the concept of walking with no specific destination or exercise goal in mind always seemed illogical. But Amanda believes it helps her to focus her mind. She told me once that she tends to associate a given thought with a given place, so that any single place can grow ‘cluttered’ with thoughts, making it difficult to sort among them. Walking apparently allows her to… distribute them more effectively. Or so she has always claimed.

I based Amanda’s perceptions on my own experiences.  Still, I seem to have gotten over that in recent years; perhaps because I’ve had to do so much more commissioned writing, and because my current neighborhood is much hillier and doesn’t have as many connecting streets, as many alternate routes from place to place, I’ve learned to get by with being in the same places, just as long as I keep walking.  I often pace around on my tiny balcony, or sometimes just in my living room.  But I like walking in the park.  In particular, there’s a big raised flowerbed sort of thing there, kind of kidney-shaped, with a stone rim around the soil.  I like to walk around on the raised rim.  For some reason, I’ve always liked walking on raised surfaces like that — nothing really high, but just the sort of narrow stone lips and rims and things you sometimes find along sidewalks and such.  I’ve never really outgrown my childish fondness for jumping up on things, though my ability to jump isn’t quite what it used to be.

My other favorite place in the park is the swingset.  I do a lot of my thinking on the swings.   Or sometimes I just set the thinking aside and just have fun.

(Come to think of it, I still do find it valuable to change my surroundings as I create, but more in the actual writing phase than the thinking phase.  I preferentially write on my laptop so I can move around and work in various different places in my apartment, go out to various libraries or other quiet areas in the nearby university, or whatever.)


On my way out for my abortive walk, I discovered something counterintuitive.  My father just  moved from his apartment to an assisted-living community, and so I turned over the three keys I had for his old place (building key and front and back door keys to his roomy apartment) and got only one key for the new place.  I figured having fewer keys to sort through would make it easier to find my own.  But when I started to lock up, I had a moment’s trouble orienting myself with the key ring, since apparently I’ve unconsciously gotten used to the old arrangement of keys.  So change for the simpler isn’t always immediately easier.  It always takes time to adjust.

Categories: Uncategorized

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