I remember Papa getting very annoyed by distractions that would take him, even briefly, away from his work. It would usually take him effort to recenter himself so he strongly preferred not to be disturbed while fleshing out his mathematics proofs or coding new math applets.
This recalls to me a particular gesture of Papa’s that I often catch myself subconsciously imitating, immediately bringing an image of him to mind ~
- Immediately after an uninvited interruption, Papa leans forward, his right elbow floating above his wooden armrest, brow furrowed. He removes his reading glasses with his left hand, holding them by the temple, then rests his forearm atop his left thigh, glasses hanging loosely. His eyes close, as he lifts his other hand to cover them, and his head dips slightly rightwards, until his upper arm rests against the right side of his chest. The tips of his fingers curl down over his left eye, and the interdigital skin fold between his thumb and index finger presses against the right. The muscles around his mouth tighten, as he concentrates.
* * *
There would also come a point in the late evening when Papa would leave his office and head to the television to watch a movie because his mind had “ceased functioning” for the day (“Мои мозги не фурычат”). Action movies, which he generally preferred, were mindlessly entertaining and didn’t require much understanding of the dialogue (he was severely hearing impaired).
I’ve been recalling this also, whenever I find myself struggling late at night to bead the threads of my sentences with words most suitable.
* * *
Last week for me was particularly busy at work, and I wrote less than usual.
Funny enough, the issue wasn’t precisely that my schedule was fuller, although it was. I could have written poetry and personal reflections at night, alone, as I do under normal circumstances. Rather, my mind was constantly preoccupied with our team’s work project, as well as with my daughter’s recent return to preschool. This left my creative mind drifting groggily through a dense fog, utterly useless.
Certainly, I’ve long recognized my need of quiet and time for creative writing, as I am otherwise unable to produce anything of quality. Anybody who takes pride in their writing, I would imagine, also requires these same basic ingredients. Broadly, this is called ‘needing space’, much like I recall Papa needing.
Last week, however, I was forced to acknowledge to myself that I also need a buffer of time between processing my daily, utilitarian thoughts, too many of which will ultimately come to absorb me, and successfully tapping into my imagination and inspiration streams.
I ‘need space’ in all dimensions – even through time.