I have a handmade, woven wood basket box-like thing with a flip-up lid (how's that for clear and concise writing?!?! sheesh) that sits on the bottom right shelf of my desk where I am perched now. My mother bought it for me at a craft fair my senior year of high school (which was not recently), and in the midst of a renewed popularity of The Grateful Dead (thanks MTV!), a very artistic friend of mine painted a perfect, green Dancing Bear in the bottom right hand corner. I've taken it to every place I've lived since then. When I look down past my right elbow right here in The Buff, I can see the little guy smiling up at me and "dancing." It makes me smile, too.
I am a taskmaster, to be sure, making lists, checking them off twice, and so on. But, since childhood, I have displayed a keen knack for finding 92 things to derail myself from the task at hand from time to time. Usually, it's because of two different reasons (which often act simultaneously): 1. I find the task at hand undesirable at the moment and/or 2. something occurs to ignite inspiration for other interests which have taken a back seat due to the task at hand. Right now, both are acting in tandem, and my Dissertation is at risk, I'm afraid.....
I love writing and really love research. And I love naps. Academia is for me! But, my Diss is bringing me down (#1 above)--I'm over it, not excited by it, need to do something about it, can't figure that part out, and so on--and, in my little mind, (#2 above) The Diss is preventing me from other projects. Of course! And, (#2 again) the weather is warm, I can see grass and sidewalks, I can stand outside without a parka, and I'm ready to go to Home Depot, rent a roto-tiller, buy some compost and get my garden going (yes, it's going to snow by the weekend but SO WHAT!??! Such truths have no impact on days like today...)
It is certainly not willpower or anything noble about myself that keeps me linked to reality on days like today. No way. Instead, my Dancing Bear box keeps me tied to today's task (Diss writing) and in The Chair more often than not, and I hope it proves itself once again.
This box is my Idea Box. It is filled to the brim with 3x5 cards and scrap paper containing scribbled words, phrases, and incoherent babble that, throughout the years, have blasted into my brain simply to wreak havoc and derail me. For sure. I don't dare LOOK IN THE BOX AND READ MY CARDS because I might as well as just call my dissertation adviser and bid her farewell. But, those cards are there. And more will be added today. Too many ideas. Get them in the box. I have pages of "research" to do.
The idea of the Idea Box was mentioned to me loooooong ago, I think. Oddly, I can't even figure out where or by whom, to be honest. Self-help seminar? Not sure I've ever attended one (and therein lies the rub....ha ha). Mentor? Perhaps, but who? Did I just come up with this on my own? Doubtful. But I like the ol' I.B. because it DOES help me stay on task, it allows me to get my little thoughts OUT of my head but doesn't cut them off either. It just allows them to percolate together as dancing ditties under the lid.
But most of all, I like the potential of the Idea Box, the gaze it has toward the future, the momentum it holds inside. I've been feeling badly about my dissertation, and with it being winter in The Buff (still, and perhaps forever!??!), I've been in a funk. Totally. I feel like I'm on a treadmill led by Microsoft Word documents that is a never-ending loop going nowhere. I'm just running running running typing typing typing.....I am not foolish enough to open the Idea Box and get going on some new (and MORE EXCITING) project nor am I going to Home Depot to buy fresh gardening gloves for AT LEAST a month....but sometimes, like this morning, like 2 minutes before I starting writing this post, I must look down to make sure that it is still there and grab some new 3x5-ers. Yes, my green bear is still dancing. My ideas are still dancing......maybe I am still dancing. Even in The Chair.
Ok, back to work.