Monday, June 16, 2014


When I am writing, rumination is my friend.

As the subject of my writing floats benignly around in my brain, a thought will come to me---while I'm stretching in bed or while I'm waiting at a red light---and I will scribble it on the notepad in my purse or the index card on my coffee table. If I don't have any paper, I will repeat the thought in my mind, like a purposely annoying jingle, so I don't forget it, until I get to someplace where I can write it down. More times than not, that thought will wind up making a sentence clearer, a paragraph more powerful, or an entire essay deeper and more beautiful. Thank you, rumination.

When I am being, rumination is my enemy.

That is because I do not ruminate about my life in a benign way. I do not think about my life as I do my writing, letting the subject float and flutter in my brain. If I'm thinking about my life, I tend to think desperately. I ruminate desperately. This results in warped thoughts that do not improve any aspect of my life. The only thing that gets deeper is my anxiety.

So, is the answer to treat my life as if it were a work of art, an essay that could benefit from some rewriting or a few edits? I think so. Instead of entertaining all-or-nothing, exaggerated thoughts about the subjects of my life, and then wanting to crumple up my life like a rejected composition, it would be better to ruminate as if I were trying to craft a clearer sentence or a more cogent essay.

When it comes to my life and my thoughts about it, in the big backyard of my mind, floating like a butterfly is better than stinging like a bee.

Photo by Susan Gaissert

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