something new every day

so after digging ourselves out yestereday, my wife and i went to visit a couple friends and their young son. we don’t see these folks nearly enough, but our pre-christmas meet-up is becoming a lovely annual tradition.

anyway, aside from the great time we had seeing them, i had a very interesting and enlightening conversation about writing, creativity, and the art of discovery, which humbled me.

the husband described a recent situation where he was attempting to write a poem, but making very little progress because he was not feeling any connection to his creative energies at the time; an experience i can entirely relate with.

in further symmetry, he realized his difficulty and decided to put the poem work away, and try something altogether different. again, a tactic i use (when i finally realize my blockage, anyway).

however, his choice of distraction, or engagement, caught me entirely by surprise with its simultaneous simplicity and creativity. he picked a poem written in spanish, a language he knows nothing of, and proceeded to ‘translate’ it, according to what he thought the words meant, regardless of their ‘real’ meaning, and regardless of their relation to the words around them. for example, the spanish word ‘muy’ became, for him, ‘my’, and so on.

that done, he had a collection of words he understood, which made no sense whatsoever. how cool is that idea? even just to stop right there would be quite liberating, i think.

next, though, he attempted to make sense of this jumbled collection, seeking to connect the disparate pieces into a logical whole, adding, changing, and removing where applicable. it’s important to note that he sought not to create his own meaning; rather, he attempted to divine what meaning was hiding behind the words he’d ‘found’.

in a final pass, he worked to make it rhyme.

the result? a song with a similar quirky enigma as the Beatles’ ‘I am the Walrus’; the kind of thing that makes no logical sense. or does it? we are amazingly flexible and creative creatures, humans, capable of finding meaning in even the most abstruse* places.

but meaning is neither here nor there, in this process. when i heard him describe this, i immediately wanted to get home and try it myself, and i look forward to doing so later today. it at first seems so simple, even silly, but as a method of freeing the mind while actively engaging it, i am in awe of it. freewriting and writing prompts and other such things have their place as well, certainly, but this one caught me by surprise, and happily so.

of course, now that i’ve written this, i imagine it’s a fairly common tool used by many writers and artists, but hey, it’s new to me, and for this surprising gift, i am very grateful.

*okay, so i had to look this one up, just in case. it’s a cool word, though, no?