We met at 12:30 in my favourite cafe. The over-enthusiastic waiter delivered two plates of mushrooms on toast to our table, walking away with the tray spinning on his finger like a basket ball. I poured the tea.
She told me about her recent trip to India to see her Uncle and her family weekend in Scotland. I filled her in on our few days in Anglesey. We talked about our work, what we were excited about and how we managed the boring but necessary tasks.
I started to talk about what I wanted to do next, ideas tumbling out one after another.
This online product I wanted to create, a short meditative film I’d like to make, some writings that were really only notes on scraps of paper at the moment but the plans I had for them. I told her about a Skype call I had with a writing mentor and all the insecurity it had surfaced in me, but how it had helped me define what next right thing I would be working on. I followed this with a sentence that began;
“…And this week I have this new thing I have been doing…”
Before I could get any further she was laughing throwing her head back and holding her hands up in the air.
“You are relentless” she said, “Does that brain of yours ever stop? It must be exhausting living in there”.
I smiled. Most conversations with this friend, who knows me too well, have this moment in them. A moment where I realise I am like an express train, my mouth trying to keep up with my train of thoughts, all the enthusiasm and ideas, emotions and questions falling over themselves in a bid to get out and be communicated.
Then she said,
“You are like my daughter learning how to write. She writes words on the page and has to be continually reminded about the finger spaces. She needs to use her finger to make a space between the words. Without the space it makes no sense. You need some more finger spaces in your brain!”
“That is totally getting used in a blog post” I told her.
When I am passionate about something I can become very enthusiastic. I am also a people person who loves to communicate and bring others along with me for the ride. I am really good at starting things.
These are not bad qualities.
Of course the flip side of having these tendencies is that balance can be hard. I struggle to find moments of rest in my mind.
If I am not careful this can lead to burn out.
In composition, whether in art or music, rests are deliberately included. These pauses give the ear or the eye a chance to catch up, a pause before the next installment of information for our senses. It is the inclusion of these moments of uncluttered space, or quiet pause that give the rest of the work its dynamism, that help it to pack a punch.
Learning to include pauses.
I am learning to create finger spaces, or pauses, in my mind. I am finding ways to quiet the dialogue that if I am not careful will never stop.
Sometimes it is a walk around my familiar neighbourhood with no music or podcast playing in the headphones in my ears. Tuning into the sounds of nature helps me to slow down and be in the moment rather than rushing on to the next thing.
If can look like choosing to stop and play with my kids; maybe a board game or a puzzle or lego. My children force me into the moment and won’t let me leave (and this is good, for me and for them).
I regularly use exercise to create space. When my body is working hard it is hard for me to be thinking about much else.
Lastly rituals have become important to me. Daily, weekly and annual rhythms to remind me of the order of things. Meals to pause at a table (not my desk) and remember that I am a human and need to nourish myself, weekends for unwinding and letting off steam, for connecting with friends and being silly, and time away from home (holidays and days out) to give me fresh perspective. Regular rituals are sacred and necessary stopping points for me, to bring a moment of calm, to bring a finger space.
What practices do you have that bring the rest in the music of your life, or the finger spaces between words in the story you are writing? Drop me a line in the comments below or on social media, I’d love to learn from you.
This week may you practice the art of ‘finger spaces’ in your days and hours.
Big love x