I’m a reasonably smart woman, and I tend to be rather more self-aware than average. But I am still very good at using that intelligence to fool myself and can get myself so focused on one thing that I remain completely oblivious to other things going on in my life of which I really should be aware.
But no matter how good I can be at fooling myself or at ignoring important input, my body always knows what my conscious mind is ignoring. And my body will continue communicating more and more loudly until it gets my attention.
I’ve always been fascinated by the stories friends tell of the odd food cravings they got while pregnant. These cravings may be for things that they normally don’t enjoy or for unusual food pairings (like pickles and ice cream) or even for things that they would not normally considering eating (like the story I heard of someone craving dirt while pregnant).
I am fascinated by the stories partly because I have never been pregnant, so I have never experienced such cravings. But I am also fascinated by the specificity of the cravings these friends report. I am well familiar with that sharp edge of craving, but my cravings are too amorphous to identify and name. I hear these stories of specific craving with a bit of envy, wondering what it would be like to know with such certainty what it was that I desired.
“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” ~Mary Oliver
One of the challenges of being a writer, I think, is that I tend to live in my imagination a good deal. I move through my day simultaneously functioning in the real world and thinking about how I’d describe what I am doing or experiencing or thinking about through writing. (And that’s not even including all of the times when my mind is off in some fictional world of my own creation.)
But at the same time, writing is a practice that helps me pay attention in ways that I never do when I am not actively writing.