Writing what you know, noting what you see
It’s a Sunday morning at about 9:30am as I write this, and I’m at a local mall. I’m helping a friend with writing some papers by being a “writing buddy” with her, the same way two people are exercise buddies to encourage each other to get out and exercise together. I’m writing down my thoughts at arriving at the mall, because everyone I know and respect as a writer says to write what you know. So… here goes. :)
I’m a little early, so I stroll relaxedly through the outdoor mall before heading for our chosen meeting spot. I find this a curiously sensual pleasure, using the word’s original meaning of “of the senses.” The summer morning is cool and breezy enough that I’m wearing a sweatshirt, and the sun’s warming touch is very welcome against my face. The mall is quite empty at this hour, which means I have my choice of parking spots. I have picked one that will leave my car still shaded several hours from now, when I will be departing.
I pause in amusement at a plain silver-gray car sitting alone in the parking lot, which has been beautifully personalized with a liberal application of “flower-power” style stickers: smiley faces, a peace sign, and of course the ubiquitous flowers themselves. I laugh aloud at sight of the little white sticker on the rear window: a silhouette of a sitting woman, much like the sad little cut-outs in chrome one frequently spots on the tattered mudflaps of old 18-wheelers. This one, however, is not a ludicrously busty nude “stripper chick.” This one is clearly wearing a skirt and glasses, has her hair back in a pony-tail, and is reading a book! Good for her. ;)
The quiet and emptiness at this hour are oddly peaceful, and it’s easier to notice the lovely shading trees and the beautiful flowers in the landscaping when the place isn’t packed with cars. The rippling whisper of the handful of small fountains is a soft backdrop of noise; I’m reminded of the Alhambra. As a child in Spain, I was told the Moors were so delighted with the lush terrain of Southern Spain that they were sure they’d found paradise on earth, and they built so you could hear the rush and chuckle of running water no matter where you were in their beautifully artistic buildings.
Later I pause again at sight of a beautiful and unusual bicycle: a light blue with white trim, and with brilliantly painted scarlet hibiscus blossoms decorating it profusely. I’m fascinated by the pale tan cork seat – I didn’t know you could do that!
As I round one corner of the mall, admiring the rich purple of the morning glories, I spot a tiny green hummingbird across the courtyard from me. She is dancing back and forth amongst the soft yellow trumpet flowers of a plant I do not know. I stop, watching with pleasure, and take slow steps forward when the tiny bird is half hidden behind the thick clusters of blossoms. With patience, I end up less than 5′ from her, and I can see her neat black cap and bright bead-like eyes clearly. I think she’s a black-chinned hummingbird; I’ll have to try looking her up later. When she eventually rockets away I sigh happily, then step forward to admire the little yellow-green flowers as well.
Wandering slowly through the mall, I receive another unexpected pleasure: I can smell all the food cooking in the various restaurants, in preparation for the day. Cinnamon teases my nose enticingly, followed by Mexican food’s spicy deliciousness; later on I catch the rich, garlicy warmth of Italian. I promise myself lunch here today as a reward, should I meet my personal writing goal. Settling in the cold, hard metal chair, I feel the breeze run chilly fingers through my ponytail, tugging gently.
I find myself wondering how many wonderful things we miss due to rushing through life – not just small sensual treasures such as those I’m currently experiencing, but also the opportunity to dream up, plan out, and joyously create them.
I shift the chair a bit so the sunlight falls warmly on my back, fire up my physically and intellectually freeing little netbook – I call her my Valkyrie, since we transcend dimensions together – and start to write.
Thank you! I’m trying hard to actually spot the beauty in my days, and appreciate it, rather than simply rushing madly through my life. You’re right, too: it is a curiously spiritual practice.
Hope your life’s beauty is easy for you to see too! :)
Wow! You make the mall sound downright spiritual. :-)