On mild catharsis

When I rock Sierra to sleep, my mind finds release. Something about the pendulous motion, the back and forth of a gentle glide, sends my mind in a flurry, throwing out unnecessary thoughts like someone preparing for a rummage sale, clearing my mind of any clutter and focusing my brainpower on single, solitary ideas.

I come up with a lot of writing concepts during these times – concepts that I end up forgetting soon after, when I have the ability to use my arms to write. The thoughts simply float away. Or, more specifically, they become lost in the shuffle again, the cathartic nature of my previous actions overwhelmed.

Catharsis. It’s a word more commonly used for rage-filled release, for pounding fists into pillows or scream therapy. To me, it’s an emotional release that’s more akin to relaxation. My mind releases the clutter by focusing on what’s causing the clutter, the constant, droning motions honing my ability to pick and choose the thoughts that should be dispelled.

It’s more ablution than catharsis – a ritual cleaning, a washing of unneeded words. It happens to all of us, and it happens during the most odd times. It’s triggered by a constant, menial action; mowing the lawn, folding clothing, vacuuming. Some people feel it while they’re beading necklaces, or etching glass. Carving wood. Anything that’s nearly pure action. Anything that leaves the mind free to wander, to focus, to clear out.

It’s similar to the marathon a mind runs when it should rightfully be calming down for the night. Those moments before sleep cultivate a rich crop of original thoughts, but a combination of sleepiness and apathy keep them from reaching full harvest.

The action, though, creates more clarity, as if the motions of the body were somehow fueling the brain like a steam engine. At these times the simple struggle against the constantly multitasking nature of our mind gives in, and the catharsis of thought – the fighting against over thinking by thinking itself – is at its richest.

I enjoy these times. But they often come so quickly, without warning. I’m unable to capture the clarity, to put the catharsis to good use.

Other times, though, the moment is recorded. The thought is saved. And I’m always amazed at what my brain can come up with when left alone with itself.

This was lovingly handwritten on November 18th, 2007