In that class, we were asked to touch the contents of a bowl and take some of the contents and experience it. I found it really odd realize that all my muscles resisted putting my hand beneath a towel for which I had no idea what was inside. By everyone of my muscles, I mean, my arm muscles that stiffened and pulled back, my hand muscles that wanted to clench, my back muscles that shoved my shoulders upward, my leg muscles that got set to run. I could go on this way but no need to belabor the point. But in thinking of that time, why did react so strongly? Perhaps because even then, I was seeking to hold onto life rather than make a slip and let some of life go.
Why react that way? Fear of the unknown and what might be lurking beneath--snake, toad, something that might jump, something sticky and icky.
Inside, there were raspberries and I remember my surprise that they felt so warm. The scent reached my nostrils before I tasted, the juice satisfyingly sweet and fresh. These sensations were about embracing the wonder of life, the rich detail, savoring what I love, capturing the fruit only available for the moment.
Was this pleasant surprise? Relief? I did relax. My eyes shut with the taste. How is it that after all these years I can still remember that one day almost fifteen years ago?
Did it have to do with that change in reaction? Did it have to do with my desire to be aware of everything, including the held breath waitingness of the class and the outdoor yells of a group of students tossing about a football. I'd watched for moments before entering the cold stiffness of the brick building with the wide hallways and overly large windows that seemed to intimidate you. Am I really remembering it, or am I collecting a set of visits all together in one snapshot, like a video sequence with the same shot and many cut out.
For me, this ability to sink into old moments and revisit scenes is something I've learned to rely on so that they seldom make my first drafts where I am seeking meaning, content, sequence, and connectivity. Often my scenes are layered together coat by coat, like a painter working additive color in patchy highlights or dots. I don't value as much what I do easily, instead I work where I feel I am weakest first because a house doesn't stand without a firm foundation.
For me that foundation is thought. I've been taught to remove our that thought and show what was and is inside the structure, which should convey all the thought behind via connections in images, theme, and actions and even character growth and by doing this, I am not telling the reader what occurred but leading them down my path of memory-experience in a specific way. The path is the meaning.
Now I am being taught to put back some of that thought, some of those decisions I made about what to include or not so that the reader is sure they are being offered a bowl filled with fruit rather than a scary uncertainty that could lead to something awful.
The thing about thoughts is they go on and on and on, are repetitive, implied by action often, maybe somewhat predictable based on circumstances. I guess the art of learning which of these thoughts to include can provide overtones of mental illness or creativity or of certainty based on training or whatever character trait is being shown.