May 19, 2011

The Eyes of a Writer

This afternoon I had coffee with a friend and former roommate at Krakatoa Coffee. We caught up on work, love, laughed through a couple memories, and generally just sipped cold drinks and chatted on the patio. Sure, a couple nearby had an awkward extended time of PDA, but it was a typical coffee date with a friend. Near the end, we talked about writing- a passion we both share. I've missed writing, but more than that, I've missed viewing the world with the eyes of a writer.
What do I mean? I mean stopping the routine of the expected and recognizing the fullness of the story- the smells, the subtle details, the unspoken understandings, and the magical thing that happens when all the right words are strung together.
Almost immediately, my mind shifted. I became more aware- aware of the setting sun and how the patio had cleared leaving just a few of us cold- with arms-crossed and poor posture, hunkered down to maximize warmth. I smelled the steak being cooked next door at the Turf Club and how it combined with the smell of mozzerella and ricotta cheese from Pizzeria Luigi to form what I quickly coined 'a sandwich in the sky'. I heard the small birds that live in the giant tree the gives shade to the patio, and I tasted a hint of lavender in the blackberry limeade I ordered.
The reality is that all these things were there before, but I think a writer takes note of them. A writer takes the time to think about their attributes and how they add to the experience. I think to some degree we put on the eyes of a writer when we travel. New places and experiences make us want to fill a journal. In the mundane everyday, we have a hard time seeing something 'blog-worthy'. But, our lives are full of rich experiences. Why were the busy streets of Beijing so much more noteworthy? Sure China felt foreign, but I think more than that I had a mindset of adventure and was more aware of the story around me.
To illustrate, months ago I was walking with my good friend Jen through downtown San Diego. We came to an overpass that crossed a major freeway. On one side was the city skyline, sun setting behind it, with the reflection turning all the buildings gold. Beyond the skyline was the Pacific Ocean, shimmering and beautiful. On the other side of the overpass, was an expanse of freeway, cars speeding in both directions, and dull in comparison. We took about 10 steps on the overpass before I commented on the beauty of the sunset. Jen looked west, gasped and said, "What have I been doing looking the other direction?!"
All that to say- I'm back. I will discipline myself to write, not because I'm in a culture that feels entirely foreign, but because life is more rich when I stop, take note, and fully experience it.