I hear stories all the time of writers who sit motionless before their empty pages, waiting for inspiration to come. But all that's needed, sometimes, is for us to leave our desks and go out into the world for a look at nature and the interactions of our species. Who knows what lessons can be taught or metaphors inspired by a simple turn around the block? Into your begging basket [thanks, Betsy Woodman, for sharing that concept with me, "begging basket"] go snippets of conversation you overhear, the variation in leaves, the sight of a kid hanging by his knees on the jungle gym, a very old person gamely pulling open the door of a cafe, a young couple walking hand-in-hand, dreamy eyed. And it's not just writers who profit from turning away from work to get AT their work: Richard Feynman, the great theoretical physicist, said he solved problems by playing frisbee.
There is something about the rhythm of one's own footsteps, the movement past things familiar and not familiar that is centering and calming. It makes your mind open up. Maybe when you come back to your desk, you'll write wonderful pages, or solve a problem that had you stymied. Maybe not. But you will have furnished your soul with things that work against isolation and abstraction and tightness, and move you toward appreciation and connection and wideness.
- Elizabeth Berg