Sunday, September 2, 2007

Assignment: "Wake up and Smell the Roses!"

Are you so busy, so pre-scheduled, so occupied by work or hobbies or activities that you hardly have time to observe the passing scene around you? Here is a short quote from the final chapter of my book Reinventing Myself: Memoirs of a Retired Professor:

"Writing is a wonderful way to bring what you see and do into sharper focus. When you write about ordinary experiences as simple as taking a walk ior eating at a favorite restaurant, you expand that experiuence by giving it a texture and depth that it wouldn't otherwise have. Writing forces us to look attentively at what we see and to interpret it, as well as to remember it."

In two chapters of my book, "Taking a Walk" and "Lunch with a View," I do exactly that: I observe my surroundings very carefully and write about what I see, as well as the reactions and memories the scenes inspire. At least once a week, I try to sit or stand somewhere and write a journal entry about what I observe: sights, sounds, smells, happenings, interesting people. I've done this on CTA busses, on city walks, in restaurants and outdoor cafes, on a bench in the park near Lake Michigan. If I'm unable to take notes on paper, I make a point of memorizing the significant details and to write about the experience as soon as possible. It's usually easy to remember the details. You'll see a few examples of such writing on my other blog, "Never too Late!" as well as here in my "Observations" writing assignment, "Clothes Make the Man--or Woman!"

Check out today's The Elders Tribune at to see a video and link to the related Washington Post articles describing an amazing event staged by the newspaper to find out how commuters would react--or not react--to a well-known classical musician's unannounced performance.

An appropriate quote from the article is these two lines from W.H. Davies' poem "Leisure":

'What is Life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare."

Ask yourself that question. Take time to look and listen, and write about it.

Copyright 2007 by Marlys Marshall Styne

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