Monday, January 26, 2009
Wide Awake...for a moment
Many years ago I was married to David Snellings (still a great friend) and we lived in a huge, drafty old house in Georgia that had once served as a school. We had some electrical problems and upon installing new wiring, discovered a staircase we didn't know existed. It had been walled up decades earlier. Apparently it was a service way for domestic help to access the upper floors without entering the main hall. Now it was an odd little nook, concealing another nook that was once either a closet or dumbwaiter. It lent itself perfectly to the concept of 'bigger inside than out.'
Spencer and I have a shared love of documentaries, and most recently we discovered Alan Berliner's Wide Awake. It's extremely well done on every level and among the many things to be gleaned from it, (we both have bouts of insomnia) was the fact that working relentlessly with no down time is not good for our brains---and not conducive to sleeping well.
So yesterday, we spent an afternoon listening to music, and playing guitar and flute. I hadn't picked up the flute in years, and playing was very much like discovering a hidden room, a bonus of space and resources I'd long forgotten. I was exercising a part of my brain left neglected for years. I was playing an instrument and listening, stimulating synapses and flipping old cobweb-covered switches.
The experience immediately brought to mind the excitement of discovering that hidden space in the old house.
This morning, Orion and I got to school extra early and once again I found myself doing something I haven't done in ages---playing basketball. The sensation of my fingers on the dry pebble skin of the ball on a chilly morning---how many files of that are in my brain---two thousand? twenty-thousand? Back to Alan Berliner and his rooms with thousands of reference photographs and sounds, filed neatly away---it's all in there. The muscle memory immediately awakened with hardly a yawn, so that the ball felt natural and easy under my hands, the arc of the shot was calculated subconsciously in my brain, the satisfaction of the swish of the net both familiar and refreshing. The surprised delight on Orion's face was like the sun.
I feel awake, in rare fashion, for today.
I'll take it.