I'm going to talk about something weird that I do. I've been doing it for about two years. I don't know why I started doing it, but I've come to believe it's helpful not just to my writing life but to my life in the general sense. I have no plans to stop doing it. I'm talking about it now because I don't know what else to talk about.
One morning I was home alone, writing, and I got stuck. I left my office and roamed the house, mulling and mumbling. I wound up in my son's room. The curtains were drawn; it was dark. I don't know what was in my mind at the time or what inspired me to do this, but I found myself placing my hands on my son's bookshelf and then standing very still, as though waiting for something. I closed my eyes, and all at once I had the feeling that something within my head came loose, came away, and there followed, just after, a strong pulse of what I guess you'd call energy entering the top of my skull and flashing through my trunk, exiting my body from the tips of my fingers and toes.There was the one great wave, woosh, then several smaller waves — a pleasant, tickling sensation. I was happy as this was happening, but also slightly concerned. What was going on? Was I having a stroke? I felt a bit faint, and yet I was laughing a little as well. Half a minute later the sensation passed, and I went back to my house-roaming. I didn't think of the episode again until that night as I was lying in bed, when I tried to recreate the feeling. At first it didn't work, but after concentrating awhile, the sensation returned, the pulses traveling through my body. In the morning I did it again, sitting in my office this time, palms flat on my desk, woosh, woosh, woosh. So began a routine: Once in the morning and once before bed I will (or imagine I'm willing) energy through my body from skull to toes.
At the start, I was moderately embarrassed by this and didn't tell anyone about it. When I finally mentioned it to a friend, he pointed out that it sounded something like meditation or prayer. This hadn't occurred to me, but it's true, after all, and it made me feel less embarrassed, which isn't to say I'm about to try it on a city bus. The effects of this practice are unknown in any precise sense, but my belief, founded in nothing concrete, is that when I do it I am dousing my interior and in effect waking myself up, much in the way one splashes cold water on his face.
This sounds a little creepy, doesn't it? If someone I didn't know talked to me about this, I'd likely be thinking, "That's disgusting!" And then I'd find some excuse to get away from the person. My sympathies are with you, reader. Rest assured I won't bring it up again, and tomorrow is, as they say, another day.
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Patrick deWitt is the author of the critically acclaimed Ablutions: Notes for a Novel. Born in British Columbia, he has also lived in California, Washington, and Oregon, where he currently resides with his wife and son.
Books mentioned in this post
Patrick deWitt is the author of The Sisters Brothers