This week waking up has found my mind full of a dull drone that is punctuated by 'need to do' commands that necessitates default actions. Muscle memory gets me out bed, into the shower, dressed and out of the house before I know it. It is a state of alert oblivion that tricks you with the pretence of experiencing the world.
Instead odd meanderings fill my head, obscure calculations and idle wondering, while each foot falls dutifully in its place, step by step by step - the mental equivalent of pulling at a thread relentlessly until you fray your trousers. Stopping to blog, or beginning the day by painting or drawing helps me to hear these thoughts, to notice the shapes and patterns around and within me.
There is a clarity that comes with rearranging the world by image, grammar, or rhythm. In order to reflect what you see or feel or think you must pick through the white noise in the head; pick out the melody or harmony that is straining to get your attention and really listen to it. Notice the flutter of notes, the hint of discord, the clever use of repetition - and crucially when the pattern changes; this is the detail that fully immerses you in the experience of the now: the changes in the weather, the demeanour of others in the carriage, a wince here, a secret smile there, and also what was bugging you from the start.
In writing my blog or sketching from life this is my purpose, to shut myself up long enough to notice. It is a different use of the form compared to writing a novel, or painting a composition. These forms require the understanding of the moment, but they are larger - they ask us to talk to the world, to invite discussion and opinion; they are built from these daily blocks of seeing, feeling or consciousness, then seek to expand who we are over time and society. The long term project needs such fuel for skill and texture, but more it needs them as a feather duster for the tunnel vision that drives us onward, but obscures the road.
When such weather falls fog lights become essential. Full beam ahead.