Friday, April 29, 2011

W is for Waiting and Watching

Life's busy. No doubt about it. But I'm setting myself a W challenge that I hope will allow me to step aside from the crowd and at the same time provide me with useful research material. I've come up with a mantra for myself....  WAIT AND WATCH.  I suppose this idea was spawned by the River of Stones project in which we were encouraged to find something each day to which we would pay proper attention for a short time, and then write a piece that attempted to capture the essence of whatever it was.  My new scheme will allow me to acknowledge when a situation is becoming heightened and to deliberately extract myself from it in order to wait and watch... the idea being that people-watching is a rich source of writing material.

I am prone to putting my two pennyworth into situations, and often the result is that I end up embroiled in something I could have done without. I don't have to be the first to put my hand up when volunteers are needed; or to speak at a meeting when no one else is choosing to participate; or to stick my neck out in an effort to sort out other people's problems.  I'm going to wait and watch instead. I can always jump in later if I can't resist the urge, but my new project requires me, primarily, to observe other people's reactions. Closely.

I'm also going to use my wait and watch mantra with my camera. Sometimes you have to sit for a long time (preferably in a good coffee shop) with a long lens, waiting for the right shot to materialize from the situation you've recognized as having storytelling or emotional impact. This is sounding good to me. I can do this. One of the perks of having given up the paid job is being able fill your time with new projects... and if coffee shops just happen to feature rather frequently, well, that's a bonus.

And in my garden I will take the time to wait and watch for the pheasant family to appear; for the baby rabbits to buck up the courage to emerge from the protection of their warren underneath my shed; for the muncjac deer to creep through the back hedge; for the baby blue-tits to emerge from the nesting box.


What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

[William Henry Davies 1871-1940]


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