I’m not sure where I heard it, or who I should give credit, but “Try to live the uninterpreted life” is a saying that often sounds in my head when I’m out on a walk, the way I just was. After last night’s wild windy storm, and six new inches of snow, this afternoon the air is mild and bright. For a week or so now, Mother Nature’s been baiting and teasing us, but today she’s had a complete and utter identity crisis. Which season is she? Where does she go from here?
The sky is blue as…The snow is puffy and fluffy as…The birds are singing as if… It’s hard for a writer to stop doing that, especially when she’s just gotten up from her writing chair to take a walk. The work I’ve just been doing buzzes in my brain, and the pen and notebook are in my pocket, at the ready. There’s a need to connect, name, manipulate everything, not just the scenes and sentences of the book I’m writing but what I see–actually see–as I walk. And yet, so busy is my brain, sometimes I come home from a walk and can hardly tell you which streets I took.
“Uninterpreted” puts me in mind of the time I heard Temple Grandin speak at the Cleveland Public Library. She thinks in pictures, she said. When she hears the word “steeple” she doesn’t think finger pointing heavenward but of various, precise steeples she has seen. I tried to do that on my walk today. “Window”. “Spreading bush”. “Fence post”. “Cat”. Snap and whirr of the photo-taking brain. No words! No captions or clever similes please.
I kept it up as long as I could, before I began to think, I can write about this.
I’m reading Lydia Davis’s new collection, “Can’t and Won’t” and reveling in her bemused, self-questioning voice and the way she claims any bit of life’s flotsam as subject. Never read anything quite like these stories, where the narrator is not a character but a mind. Speaking of interpretation: she is a genius translator as well, of both Proust and Flaubert.