Sunday, October 31, 2010

Waiting for the Next Wave

Waiting for the next wave isn’t just waiting.

You sit in the water poised, active, watchful.

You’re set to start swimming as soon as the wave comes in.

You sit there frustrated or upset about not swimming yet, not catching a wave, or maybe you're a bit impatient.

But that’s what waiting for a wave is all about: learning to cultivate patience.

To write, you need to develop the ability to sit and watch without expecting anything, just noticing whatever flashes across your vision.

A flock of seagulls swooping over the waves.

Dozens of terns darting across the beach.

A pair of pelicans diving beneath the water.

A great blue heron, beak poised, waiting for the right moment.

If you were that heron, you’d have to learn to wait and watch.

Waiting for a wave is a bit like that, except you don’t so much catch it like a fish–well, you do catch a wave–but not in a way that you can hold onto it.

It’s about catching the thrill of motion and water and speed, entering that moment fully and completely and riding it as far as it will take you, and then slipping back into the water and waiting for the next wave and the next.

When you’re waiting for a wave, you’re thinking.

Sometimes you’re thinking about the waves, where they come from and when the next one will come, and how big it might be, and how far it’ll carry you.

Sometimes your thoughts may wander, and you'll find yourself hauling in a net full of unrelated ideas, thoughts, images, that may or may not lead you to new thoughts, new stories.

Learning to wait is as much about learning patience as it is about learning to think.

And learning to think is the essential skill that you need in order to write.

It all begins with learning to wait for that next wave.

For more on active waiting, visit:

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