Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why We Do it (Version One)

Okay, I'm going to start this post off with a Grover-esque warning

There is a rather gory picture of sheep innards towards the end of this post. If this sort of thing makes you queasy, you best avoid it.

So... why the gross picture, you ask? Long story.

See, it all started at the Boston Museum of Science. I was fortunate enough to forgo my mountains of educational paperwork and attend a field trip to the museum this week. It was a great outing. We contemplated the societal definition of race, checked out some cool electrical exhibits, and saw some chicks hatching in an incubator. (Although I am an old hand at chickens, I can't resist this sort of thing.)

Then we came upon a lab table where an actual sheep heart-- and attached lungs-- lay like a chunk of meat (I guess, technically, it WAS a chunk of meat). Red, and beige and streaked with what looked like some sort of fatty substance, it grossed us all out, especially when a museum volunteer blew air into the organs' windpipe and the lungs expanded like two bloody balloons.

But here's the thing, when those lungs expanded, I found myself breathing in as well, and although I just-then imagined the way my own lungs might look (not dissimilar to the ones on the table, I thought....) and could be totally grossed out by them, I could also, on a whole other level FEEL the goodness of that breath, the slight ahhhh of tissue expansion and delicious quality of oxygen as it began a short lap through my body and rushed back out to join the rest of the world.

What on earth does this have to do with writing? Welllll.... It occurred to me as I stood there looking at that bloody organ, that this is what good writing (or art or music) can do for a person-- lift a given sort of experience into some other territory. It can connect us to a new understanding, to make us feel both viscerally and more abstractly, what it means to exist.

Okay, okay, I'm backing away from the deep end for a while.

"Why Write?" I often ask myself. After all, I could take up some more practical hobby; I could make quilts or garden or landscape or just do a better job of cleaning this wreck of a homestead, but here I am in my head, again.

So this, I suppose is one sort of answer. There are many others though, and I'm sure I'll pour out a few other versions of the "Why do it?" post along the line. (Hey, I think I have!)

But enough about me: Why do you write?

Quick note: Don't forget to enter my 101 is Wonderful contest. Seeing as there are only a few people entered, you have an excellent chance of winning!


Alicia Gregoire said...

Nice post, Perri. And am I weird for not being grossed out by the picture?

Perri said...

Compared to ZOMBIES, Alicia, I guess it's not that bad :)

Alicia Gregoire said...

It's a choice.

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Excellent and insightful post. I can relate to what you're saying. I think both writing and reading heighten awareness and allow us to understand our experiences in fresh and deeper ways. (And no, I wasn't grossed out by the lungs. Much. ;-) )

Leslie Rose said...

Love the way you connected writing to the sheep innards. Ah, the creative process is always lurking in our subconscious.

Suzi Banks Baum said...

Yipes...sheep innards and breathing and writing all in one gasp.
I love your metaphor my daughter's class hosted slam poet Taylor Mali for a session on poetry and writing. When she got home from school, I had to still my own pulsing heart from bursting as my girl described listening to Taylor read a poem about comparing being in love to owning a dog. My girl talked about using metaphor, any metaphor and taking it for a walk with an idea. She had this light in her face, the light you hope will dawn within your child about something inspiring coming to them without your handprint on it.
That is why I write, because, I get struck with things, connections and moments and there is nothing more I can do but write...remember the opening of "The Sound of Music" when Maria is spinning and singing in the mountains? That. Is how I feel about life.
Gotta write. Just gotta. Love, Suzi

Laura said...

I LOVE this! Great analogy, and what a great fieldtrip. I want to go there now!

Perri said...

Thanks everyone, I'm just glad this made sense outside my own head.

Ophelia said...

wow. WOW this post was an adventure- adore your natural voice.