write like a tourist

 bberriesOne way to journal is to forget everything you know about the place you live. You learn to look at the world as if you just popped through a worm hole from some other verdant, vividly lush and distant planet. Instead of going about your regular routines, I bet you would begin to really see the world you inhabit.

How many times do you go about your business and then suddenly realize that you can’t remember the last ten minutes? That you had been on autopilot, with your body operating the family car, stopping at lights and pausing for pedestrians while your mind had zipped off to distant canyons and \ gullies of memory and illusion? You’ve arrived safely and no one was hurt thank goodness, but what would happen if you were fully embodied, fully present, each day of your life? Would you see the world differently?

My vote is yes. It’s a fact that we do not cultivate the practice of notice very well. We are bombarded by television, radio, the Internet, literally thousands of messages a day (the gist of which are of the most dire nature by the way, and another reason to unplug) and so it’s natural that we begin to shut down. In many  cases, shutting down is a natural mechanism of survival. The trouble is, once you begin to shut out the ugly of the world, you inevitably begin to shut out the beautiful and remarkable and miraculous, too.

Almost no one I’ve ever talked to about it thought their story was interesting. But I’ll bet their story is remarkable. They just stopped noticing the details. They forgot that their life was miraculous in about a million ways. So here’s an idea: write about your life like you don’t own it. Write about last Christmas like you’re a staff writer at a big agency and you’re creating a storyboard for a movie that will be seen around the world and sent toward the great, central sun by powerful satellites and viewed by people who have no idea what Santa is about, and why people decorate trees with shiny glass orbs. Explain what your house looks like as if you were describing it to a blind person. Paint a picture with words to describe your dog to a boy who has never seen a dog in his life. Illustrate a journal entry about last night’s dinner with words so smoky and succulent that your nostrils twitch and your stomach howls. Visit your local grocery store like you’re a tourist from Hungary. Have you ever noticed, really noticed, now many different brands of bread there are? How many varieties of potato chips they sell? Go to your local Chamber of Commerce and ask for a directory of members and marvel that people do the kinds of jobs they do. Lick the inside of your wrist and then sniff it to see what your breath smells like. Stop living on auto-pilot! Cultivate an appreciation for each Now that shows up. Now, I reach for my water bottle and the cool liquid slides down my throat. Now, my fingers pull away the skin of an orange. Now, I call on inspiration, and she takes my hand and we walk.

5 thoughts on “write like a tourist

  1. I am so not licking my wrist. LOL! I appreciate the sentiment though. I often wondered what it would be like to notice little details about my surroundings and the people I pass on the street like a Sherlock Holmes or Poirot. So I challenge myself as often as I can remember to pick out what I can about things, especially during my walks. A strange smell or a unique character can be such a wonderful puzzle to solve. Your perspective is refreshing. Thanks.

    • You are too funny…but I think I’ve had stranger writing challenges. Like from the writing mentor who was a secret heroin addict. No, really. She did teach me how to pay attention to the offbeat and in that way my writing became a bit more colorful. Anyway, thanks for checking in!

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