In Wanderlust, a book solely explores the experience and the ideas of walking, Rebecca Solnit wrote a single line of narration at the bottom of the page that goes horizontally across all pages towards the end. Unable to skim, one needs to walk with the line, one page at a time, one step at a time, towards the end; a reading done with two pairs of eyes walking along the designated path on a designated journey set up by the writer.
The writer, too, walks the path, first exploring and studying the weeds of thoughts, then trimming them down into a beautiful concrete pathway to welcome the readers. Along the process are a stumble, a balancing, and an act of mediating and meditating with the body, the mind, and the Earth.
“Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord.”
The process of writing, as I’m sure most of you are familiar with, most probably involve 80% of staring on screen or walking around and screaming around. Many notable writers exercise their feet to exercise their minds, as if an act of thinking and writing go hand in hand (or foot) with physically roaming the room. Writing in itself is like two feet trying to balance between daydreaming and concretizing ideas.
If City is a whole idea, then meandering and strolling the streets is one of the most intimate ways to understand it. Sometimes we get lost and sometimes we find new routes; sometimes we go in circles, other times we take a straight line; overtime we found our favorite streets and those we instinctively avoid, but eventually, understanding the City comes by conquering the unfamiliar territories, by making familiar the unknown, and by collecting these small snapshots to make sense of the City.
Sadly we weren’t born holding a concrete map of our brain. Different writing ideas may come every day, but the process and the struggle are, often times, feel very familiar. Perhaps we are taking the same thinking route every time, despite proven to be the longest and most challenging. Or perhaps we walk around the ideas without being fully present, without making sense of the street into the bigger picture, or without putting the line of thought into a larger context.
The process of thinking is quite puzzling! But our mind is the single most powerful thing we need to conquer; for confidence, for belief, for influence, especially for writers whose swords are solely words, an essentially abstract shape on a white piece of paper or screen we (and our ancestors) have imposed meanings too. Unlike music, paintings, or arts that are instinctive, words are silent, passive, and need to be injected with meanings.
We battle with ourselves when we write; from the calculated decisions on what to include and what to leave out, to the direction of the writing, to a more moral responsibility of our writings. We stumble, walk back, and take new routes over and over again in the process of writing. Pain and pleasures combined into one. So perhaps it helps to realize that our mind, too, is a City we don’t have a map for, but we can slowly learn and trace its streets and dead-ends more consciously, compassionately, and patiently, until we have a better understanding of its own mazes and magic.