Monday, February 15, 2016

A mini-vacation for the brain

"If Robert Frost were alive today," said Paula Poundstone at her performance the other night, "he would write, 'Whose woods these are I think I'll Google.'" (And then he'd create a selfie instead of a poem.)

It wasn't the biggest laugh of the evening but it reinforced a concept I've been trying to drill into my writing students: if you want to get creative, give your brain a break!

I'm convinced that the human mind needs down time, time away from tunes, tweets, and entanglements. We can continually feed the brain on cute cat videos, pictures of other people's breakfasts, and inane text messages, but at some point the overstuffed mind needs time to digest. I suspect that's why so many prolific writers are also prolific walkers: there's nothing like the rhythm of aimless walking to put the mind into "refresh" mode.

Such unfettered time will be rare this week thanks to a million meetings and teaching tasks, so it felt good to take some time off over the weekend to sit in a beautiful historic theater, newly restored, and laugh loud and long with friends over a comedian who knows the value of down time. It was like a vacation for the brain, and if I make it through this impossible week without going completely insane, I'll have Paula Poundstone to thank.  

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