Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Let The Sparks Fly

It's 1970-something in Pittsburgh.The air is still thick with the humidity of the sweltering day and even the darkness doesn’t relieve the throbbing heat. As my siblings and I sit on the back porch, we watch the fireflies sparking in the blackness of the back yard. My sister and I get a jar and collect the flying lights. We’ll take it to our bedside and let their flickers be a comforting nightlight as we drift off to sleep on top of the cool sheets. But in the morning when we wake up, the bugs will lay dead or dying in the bottom of their glassed captivity. We should have savored their sparks for just a short time, and then let them go back to their freedom.  

I’ve often been told I’m way too introspective; I over-analyze. I think too much. You name the phrase that speaks to my processing monkey mind, and it probably fits. The thing is, I’ve always felt like it’s been tossed at me like an accusation, something I need to fix. 

I admit it gets in the way sometimes. When I try to still my spirit and listen, I can barely shut down the ticker tape of thoughts constantly scrolling through my head. Acts of meditation-- focusing on my breathing and quieting my mind-- are like giving a sugar-addicted person a piece of luscious chocolate cake and then forbidding its consumption. I immediately fixate on the taboo: my stream of consciousness.

I’ve...of course...given this topic a lot of thought. I do over-analyze, think too much, regurgitate endlessly on topics, sometimes to my detriment. But after a lifetime of having this quality pointed out, I'm beginning to suspect that if it’s part of my personality make-up I might as well embrace it instead of constantly trying to modify it.

Maybe it’s a trait common to artists—whether we are constantly telling ourselves a story, contemplating an insight, visualizing a stroke of color and design, or hearing a chord rich with layers of tone. Maybe the constant chatter is a friend, collected fireflies in the jar sparking with ideas. This year, I need to take the lid off more and give the ideas their freedom. I need to write. Otherwise, I risk suffocating their precious flickers.

Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh




Keep writing,


Julie

62 comments:

  1. Loved this, Julie. The flashback to youthful days combined with a life lesson. I wrote something akin to this as well. Knowing thyself (and embracing said self). I too, am tired of modifying who I am to people please. Okay, so I'm a little nit-picky and perhaps too particular in the way I do things. I could either keep trying to modify that aspect of myself, or embrace and corral it to use it as a positive—a strength and not a weakness.

    Wonderful food for thought. Thanks.

    M.L. Swift, Writer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, it's such a balance sometimes, isn't it? I don't want to "just be me" (prideful) in the face of consideration of others, and yet, sometimes a trait is a trait and you have to see how it can work for you (while not bugging the crap out of others!). It's the battle I struggle with, at any rate. But yes, I need to cultivate those thoughts rather than just ruminate on them unto suffocation. :) I'm off to read your good post.

      Delete
  2. Julie,

    Please don't over analyze this statement because at the end of the day it is just a simple arraignment of words.

    "Best Post you have ever written!"

    I cant wait to read the magical fireflies that are released from your soul.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's because it was short, isn't it? ;)

      Thanks as always for your support, Rob. By the way, thoroughly enjoyed reading your post today. Thanks for your good thoughts.

      Delete
  3. I have the constant chatter in my head too, but it's mixed with to-do lists and reminder lists, which lately have a louder voice than the story line in my mind. For me, quiet and meditation helps me hear the story line. :)

    I think it's a gift, not something to be fixed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that's the best way to look at it-- allowing that quiet time to sift through the noise. Thanks for that reminder.

      Delete
  4. Oh, Julie- your words are like that delishicious pice of cake you described. That first paragraph was just luscious!

    And the rest of it- the ticker-tape of thoughts? Singing my song, every note of it. I do think it's a common trait amoung us creative types. I think we're prone to thinking, in general. and that can certainly lead us into a lot of trouble. But I've come to belief that you can't have one without the other and I think that not only accepting but embracing that of our personalities is a neccessity to true happiness.

    Which isn't to say that I constantly striuggle with it, but I strive as hard as I can to embrace that part of me. And that process of letting them out paper can help me stay sane.

    Thanks so much for the reminder!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you're right though-- I think it's a part of being creative, that our souls are maybe "more" sensitive and we look at things a little more closely than others. Maybe that's why it seems "too much" to others. Yes, let's let them out this year.

      Delete
  5. My mind is constantly going. If I wake up in the middle of the night, it kicks into overdrive. Maybe it does just go with the territory.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've read other blogs about authors being caught in constant dialogue and plot thinking so I wonder about that too.

      Delete
  6. Yes I am one of those who finds it hard to switch off my head! I over analyse, replay conversations and situations till it sometimes drives me a little crazy! I agree that this seems to be a common theme with writers in particular. Writing for me is another way to make sense of my thoughts and I think that is why writers are insightful and can write about people and emotions so clearly. A very thoughtful post, Julie, thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just read a quote about writers-- artists-- being more sensitive than most folks. I wonder if it's all tied in together. Interesting that you relate to this too.

      Delete
  7. Sometimes my brain waves don't want to stop. But if I can focus on something else, I can flip the switch and shut them off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that's probably a great antidote to the over-thinking. Even better, sometimes focusing on something different-- physical exercise, for example, allows the brain to come up with new patterns of thought.

      Delete
  8. That's right, Julie. Embrace your rapid-fire curiosity. It's a great thing. We all benefit from it, and you should be proud. Why must the word "over-analyze" even exist? It's like being called "over-sensitive." We need more people like you in this world.

    Cheers,
    xoRobyn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Robyn, what I'd really appreciate is if you could just email me something heart-soothing and encouraging like this every day. You are the best at making me feel all glowy inside. Thank you.

      Delete
    2. Ah, thank YOU, Julie. I hope you're still feeling glowy and curious. xo

      Delete
  9. I know what you're talking about, Julie. As a writer, my mind is constantly trying to make sense of the world around me. Even though you've been told all those things about the way you think, I'd bet you've gathered a lot of sharp observations and insights about the laws of nature that can't be found in textbooks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm-- not getting them out in a fashion that makes readers feel like they've just been invited into something wonderful. That's the trick!

      Delete
  10. Omigoodness...we are alike in this. Husband is forever telling me I can complicate anything. I practice it a lot, so I'm very good. I have the same problem meditating. Even so, I try to get in at least ten minutes a couple times a week. I don't always succeed. Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Carol, this response was good for my heart. I feel so less...well...weird. Or perhaps at least not so alone in my weirdness. Yes, I've been told I can complicate things, am too intense-- you name it. I keep trying meditation. If nothing else, I close my eyes and my kids leave me alone for a little bit thinking I'm off doing that kooky meditation thing again....

      Delete
  11. I would never criticize someone for thinking too deeply. So many people don't think enough before they speak or blog or update their profiles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's kind of how I feel about it too, but realize I may be coming from a biased point of view on the subject.

      Delete
  12. Beautiful and introspective and just right. Thank you for sharing! I'm one of those "overly analytical" people too . . . and it's nice to let the sparks fly. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes ma'am. It's a release, isn't it? Thanks for stopping by. :)

      Delete
  13. Your posts always inspire me, Julie. I love the firefly image...I saw a whole meadow full when I visited Illinois last year and wondered at why I ever tried to capture a few in a jar when I was a kid. They are so spectacular when left free to fly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I miss that about back east. We don't have them here in CO! (Too cold-- they'd freeze their tails off!)

      Delete
  14. Aloha Julie :)

    Oh my, you are sooo right! It is alllll about God's timing and I truly believe He has a great deal in store for you this year, too.

    Most definitely, you must keep the lid off the jar and follow the flight of your words and where they take you.

    I have some serious issues with focus - so I can feel your "pain" with the things you mentioned, but remember, you are who you are for a reason and He has a plan! (To see it, we just have to keep the lights on :)

    All the *very* best for 2014 and farrrr beyond :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm hoping 2014 brings some serious changes in my life-- I know I turn 50 and my kids fly the coop. Who knows what will open up after that.

      Yeah focus-- I can focus as long as my mind is buzzing on something-- it's the quiet and stillness that gets me!! Yes, he has a plan. 2014? Bring it.

      Delete
  15. I think artists are generally like that. We have cluttered minds, racing along, analyzing, analyzing...
    I've learned to embrace it. I like being different, even though I'm misunderstood.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let's drink some wine and understand each other! I love my wonderful, quirky, creative friends. Wish we lived closer together to celebrate our uniqueness!

      Delete
  16. I love the parallel you created here with the fire flies and your flights of thought. I spend a lot of time in my mind...If there is a lot of noise or chaos in life, those thoughts that flit about cease to be there. I can't think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a bit like that too,Lisa. I need and in fact thrive on minimal activities. Too much and I shut down. Happy New Year.

      Delete
  17. A friend of mine who's just read my book said she was amazed at the stuff I'd written, that it had all originated in my head, and how wonderful my thoughts must be. In return, I wondered how quiet her head must be. (I didn't say that though, it would have been a bit rude.) But I can honestly not imagine the voices not talking to me... Erm, you know what I mean! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, yes I do know what you mean! Actually, I wish mine would have spoken up a bit more today-- they were way too quiet! (Or I was ignoring them.)

      Delete
  18. Catching fireflies. Never got to do that as a kid, but more than making up for it now since my folks moved back east. And I say jar as many of them as you can ... just poke some holes in the lid first. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They don't even like the holes-- they need freedom! ;)

      Delete
  19. Love this post! Especially the analogy..."take the lid off more and give the ideas their freedom." Awesome.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ahhh that's it exactly, isn't it? I didn't do that today, however. Sigh.

      Delete
  20. I sometimes struggle with too many ideas. Sadly, it can keep me from focusing on just one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I could have a couple that would land and let me choose. Mostly I just have these wisps. Settling them can be a chore, indeed!

      Delete
  21. Ah, a sister in brain! I understand perfectly what you say. I am like this too. It is not easy being over analytic for sometimes we over analyze things that dont lead anywhere. I imagine a talk with you would be extremely pleasant for a dragon like me. How come we have never done that? Yet the hugs are so comforting. SH.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. On more than one occasion I have thought of us as kindred sister-souls. :) SHs in abundance.

      Delete
  22. I'm definitely with you on this one. My brain never ever shuts down and the ideas are endless. It is an amazingly wonderful thing for a writer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm beginning to see how that can be so if I can get them out of my head and on to the page.

      Delete
  23. Hi Julie,

    I believe that over-analysing could well stymie other possibilities that are laying dormant. I know that my mind doesn't shut up. However, over-analysing, in writing, in life in general, can cause me to pull out my last remaining hair.

    All the best and keep going.

    Gary :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is that danger too-- it's a bit of a high wire balancing act.

      Delete
  24. I have this same trait and I love your idea of embracing it instead of modifying it. Here's to lots of ideas flying around this year!

    Your opening took me back to lots of summer nights in the 70s with my sister. Beautifully written, Julie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here's to lots of ideas and maybe landing a few of them!

      Oh I had fun going back to those hot summer nights too.

      Delete
  25. I share this trait of over-analyzing everything. I agree, there are lots of benefits to this trait. Where it's problematic for me is when I allow it to serve as a means of self-sabotage. I research something forever rather than taking action. I'm trying to learn to maximize the positive side of the characteristic without allowing the fear to hold me back. Thank you so much for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Reese, yeah I can do that too-- mull and mull endlessly and never write anything-- there is a danger in that.

      Delete
  26. We all, I believe, have qualities that don't quite fit with the norm. One of mine is that I can't help but think of many, many alternatives to situations, whether the situations are problematic or not. I try and tone it down in groups or when in public. Another is that I am very, very shy after making superficial acquaintances with people.

    Maybe it is part of our creative selves that keep that part of our spirit separate. It can be a bother only because others don't seem to quite know how to handle it, which in turn makes me feel sad to a degree. But, I am who I am, and I believe God made me this way for a reason that will benefit me and others as long as I can listen to God in how and when to effectively use these seemingly isolative traits.

    I wish you a beautiful, introspective year Julie!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe it is part of our creative selves that keep that part of our spirit separate.

      I like this and am going to remember this. Thank you.

      Delete
  27. Great metaphor. I'm glad you are embracing that aspect of your personality. Good luck. Leanne ( http://readfaced.wordpress.com/ )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by. I am still in process of embracing it.

      Delete
  28. I do the same thing, analyze to my own detriment. Great when working a job as controller, but in daily life not so much. Great post, and not just because it was short! LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Short is always good on IWSG days, though! It's being confirmed through responses that this is a writer's dilemma. :)

      Delete
  29. That first paragraph was so beautiful! You're such a writer, Julie! And yes... we are a breed of people... I over analyze EVERYTHING...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The curse and blessing of an artist, I think. How else do we conjure and develop stories and ideas, perhaps? Thanks for your kind words, Morgan. You're always so affirming.

      Delete
  30. I'm with you, Julie, I've been told I over analyze, think too much, and ask too many questions. I'm too introspective. But if that's how God made me then how can that be a bad thing? I think it's when we allow it to get out of control and out of balance that it starts to work against us.

    We just need to know how to better use it than abuse it. If it's creating chaos and disorder in our lives then we just have to rebalance (not fix or modify) it back into the good God intended it to be. If it needs fixing or modifying, God handles that, not us. He changes us into what we're called to be.

    Also, I just love that firefly analogy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We just need to know how to better use it than abuse it. If it's creating chaos and disorder in our lives then we just have to rebalance (not fix or modify) it back into the good God intended it to be.

      Yup, I think you nailed this-- it's about the balance. I tip sometimes. ;)

      Delete
  31. I have a tendency to obsess too. I can't help it. Sometimes I wish I could just do without all the worry. but alas it seems it's in my DNA also.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for being a part of the conversation. I love reading your thoughts and feedback.