I remember the first time I read Ernest Hemingway. I was twenty-one years old and sitting outside a café in Birmingham, England. I read Hills Like White Elephants, a short essay, in a book of American collections I had picked up for five quid at the University bookstore that morning. I thought it funny that I had never read Hemingway. After all, I was a literature student from the United States and Hemingway penned some of America’s classic novels. Following the essays was a brief consideration of author purpose and possible interpretations. I was intrigued and decided right then and there it was a very real travesty that I had not read Hemingway and by the end of the month I had read everything I could find: The Sun Also Rises, The Old Man and the Sea, Indian Camp, and A Farewell to Arms. Safe to say within a few weeks the bells tolled for me.
When I came up for air, I was more than slightly behind in schoolwork and to this day I can’t read Lord Byron without a stomach ache. Those works were not meant to be crammed; and when they are, stomach aches, ulcers, and mediocre marks by professors follow. Despite the Byron Bruises, I remember my Hemingway moments fondly and am happy I spent some time completely absorbed in one thing, one moment, and one idea. In their oneness, obsessions offer amazing and ironic growth.
Times may change; writing doesn’t. To quote Hemingway, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Indeed.
I find myself unable to pour my soul into my writing this summer. In fact, it is all I can do to keep up with my children, who flit from one obsession to another, sometimes in seconds and sometimes in weeks; and I, the observer and supporter, can do nothing but try to keep up, snap a few pictures, and sleep well at night. Well, sleep is not always an option… but that is a different blog.
I am sure you have all been there, are there now, or you are mere moments away from The Next.
The Next. It’s that which drives us crazy as individuals, as parents, as teachers, and as humans occupying the same space with a gifted child. Yet, this crazy unknown always changing Next makes our children insanely happy.
They live to love. They have to focus and fixate to function. It’s part of who they are and who they want to be. It’s passion for life incarnate. It’s bolder, brighter, and bigger. Good or bad, helping or hindering progress, obsessions and focus on one thing for as long as it takes to feel sated, are part of my children’s learning style as much as they are a part of their souls.
For the past week the kids and I have been all about hummingbirds. On vacation we visited a mountain town with hummingbirds literally crisscrossing the sky all day long. We were excited, intrigued, and ecstatic. We tried to capture them on film and then identify each one. We have taken to watching through our windows since they frequent our area as well. We have researched them, talked about them, and even named our favorites. We are determined to see as many as possible. We are obsessed.
On one particular botanical gardens visit we named a little elusive Calliope Humingbird Ernest. Yes, you got it, we named him Ernest Hummingway. And so began my latest blog.
Call it what you will: multipotentialite, multiadaptor, or simply flighty, but gifted minds were born to keep moving. If we stop then we fall. We move fast, work fast, think fast, but we are incredibly controlled and accurate at the same time. When we are done we are gone. We may revisit or we may not. It’s exhausting.
Likewise, it’s just as exhausting trying to capture a hummingbird on film. You have to make changes to get them to stop where you need them to stop; but the change can’t be made in the bird, the change has to be made to the flower. Change color, variety, depth, or shutter speed. Then and only then is it possible to catch a glimpse of a hummingbird. Or maybe you won’t. Maybe by the time you’ve set up your garden you’ll be on to chemistry.
Which reminds me of the summer I spent with Kurt Vonnegut after being pulled in by Ice 9.