I have a pen pal in Europe, a country where it seems the average job pays higher and offers better vacation days than America. Every letter from her speaks of grand vacations in which she takes in the opera in France, visits the coast in Germany, and shops for her clothes in Sweden. After reading each letter, I pour myself a glass of port and remind myself of my own, less than internationally adventurous, but valuable life. What saddens me most is that her letters lack something the writer in me craves.
I love to hear the stories people tell from their world travels, and I am often let down when what I receive compares to a shopping list.
“Do let me tell you about our most splendid vacation! We traveled to Italy, spent a day in Rome, lunched in Venice, took in the theater in Florence… Blah, blah, blah…”
How am I’m supposed to listen with anything but pretend enthusiasm? What I feel like saying is this…
Stay home! Send me on your vacation. I’ll keep a journal, take pictures, talk to the locals, and enjoy their cuisine. And when I return, I’ll have stories to tell that will captivate, mesmerize, and entertain you. Sadly, roaming the imported food aisle of the grocery store is as close as I come to sampling cuisine from around the world.
When my Dad was alive, we used to talk on the phone every night for an hour or so. He’d share his day, I’d share mine, and often we would laugh at old jokes. Friends would wonder what my Dad and I found to talk about every single day. They’d wonder what sort of amazing life we lived to have so much to share. In return, I wondered in reverse about their daily lives. Frankly, unless one stays in bed all day, staring at the ceiling, I can’t account for a lack of something to say. I think even if I stared at the ceiling all day, I could share the umpteen thoughts I knocked about.
The often ordinary life we live each day is, if we tune in to our five senses, remarkable in its details.
For this Wednesday writer’s prompts and inspirations, I would like you to record in a pocket notebook the details of the typical moments in your day. These are the details, after all, that find their way into our writing.
Suggestions for things to include:
Your thoughts when the phone rings, your thoughts when you see who the caller is on caller ID, your reaction to a conversation you overhear in the post office or at your job, your thoughts about the way someone is dressed, your reaction to the sweet smell in the bakery, describe the texture of something you eat with your hands, describe the flavor of that food, the familiar scent of a perfume you smell as you pass through a crowd of people, an incident that brings back a long forgotten memory, a sudden weather change, the way the weather alters your day, a package you weren’t expecting at your door, etc…
I would love if you shared some of your discoveries.