" SpiritofSaltSpring:BC:Canada:GulfIslands:SaltSpring:Salt Spring:

March 27, 2012

WiFi, Travel, Staying Connected and Da Plane

I'm on a plane right now, typing this, using my laptop and I can't help but think about all those years ago when the first time I ever travelled alone, at 19, flying all the way to Finland for 3 months and how I almost never connected with my family during that entire time. I didn't call them and they didn't call me - except for maybe one time. Now, that was partly because of the way they were and partly because I was clued out about how to call internationally. I know, I know, dare I admit that now.

At that time,  I was so naive that when they offered me a drink on the plane, I declined until I realized they didn't actually cost anything. I can see myself so clearly. Oh me.

No Twitter. No Facebook. No E-mail. Thinking back to that time,  I can hardly believe it. It was like being relegated to some deserted island or something. Most 19 year olds aren't even entirely disconnected from their parents for more than an entire day these days, let alone 3 months. And, yes, I know this sounds like, when I was young, we used to walk 7 miles to school and have to milk the cows before we left.

Now, you must forgive me because, I don't often travel, especially in the last 3 years and haven't been on a plane since 2007 when i returned from New Mexico so I'm sure to be observing things that many of you just take for granted but here are just a few things I've noticed or thought so far:

1. Just because you work for Customs, is it not possible to be friendly? I mean, does one preclude the other? I'm not sure why really.
2. Don't ask me why I was thinking this but you don't usually see a pilot or groups of pilots walking around looking depressed. In those uniforms and those hats, they just exude confidence don't they? We like to think there's a correlation between mood ad being present right?
3. Watching the ground crews with their vests, I just couldn't help but think, are they like the fighter pilot boys of the ground. I saw a group of them heading out on the tarmac, as if they were just arriving at work, looking like a bunch of miners about to start their shift and I thought to myself, now that's a work environment and a group I just have no clue about. I'm curious. What do they talk about when the day is done? I'd like to know that, just out of curiosity.
4. I'm heading back to the big island of Hawaii (Kona and Hilo) and all the little hang loose hippie points in between and I'm wondering, having experienced what it's like to live on a little island myself now, how I might see things differently there. I went in 2005 and I specifically felt compelled to return for reasons I'm not totally clear about except to see a few of the places I wanted to see again, maybe even write something about them on my return.
Anyway, that's it for now. I'll keep this short. As predicted, Turbulence beginning over Northern California.\

March 14, 2012

Pull Up a Chair and Really Listen

Outside a restaurant in Steveston, BC

How many times have you left a conversation wondering, what exactly did she mean by that? Is what I think he meant, really what he meant or am I completely misinterpreting that? Am I projecting? It's so easy to be so passive, to never think critically and like a sponge move through your days, as if you're watching TV, without really knowing if what you thought you understood is what someone else was actually trying to communicate or if it went right over your head (maybe like this blog post is doing right now for you?) 

And, that brings me to the small-group workshops that are a part of the SFU Writer's Studio. In my group - every second Tuesday, 10 of us gather around a table in a very small room downtown. When it's our turn for one of our pieces to be work-shopped, we receive the luxury of receiving both verbal feedback and then, in writing, from 9 other people to take home and keep. A first draft of creativity, handed back with our fellow classmates' impressions, opinions, feedback, corrections and philosophical musings. It's quite a luxury.  

And, then you take those home and put them in a drawer and pull them out a few weeks later after you've mulled over how you want to change what you've written or you want to completely revise. You could even choose to go back to the person and ask them for a more thorough explanation of their comments if you want really want to.

Your assumptions get reflected back to you. You get to see if you're being gender biased or if because of your age you're making statements that nobody under 30 would understand.  You get to see how people are reacting to your writing. You get to see how a character or a story that you feel you've explained completely is confusing your readers or leaving them wanting a lot more. Too many colloquialisms? You actually end up learning quite a bit about yourself. You get glimpses into where you might be stuck, your natural tendencies in approaching how you tell your stories and how you might consider challenging or experimenting with those. You get to see where your fellow writers unanimously agree or disagree and you have to go inside, use your intuition, for where the comments are at direct odds. You learn what's weak and what's strong and whether you're leaving them confused or making them think or getting across your message in exactly the way you intended to.

When we go around the table and the person giving feedback has their 5 minutes to speak, it's as if they hold the talking stick. Nobody else gets to interrupt or speak. We're all listening. 

Where else in our world do you get to be in a group of  people, listen, and have all the information that's streaming out of each one of them, as they take their turns, be directed towards a creation that you've pulled out of your imagination or your personal history? 

Better than group therapy!