Why I need my dog to help me write
From time to time, when I sit down to start a new piece, I’m hampered by the fear of not being able to write again, ever. It’s as though in the night between having finished one piece and beginning the next, a wall has been pulled up between myself and my innermost thoughts.
The longer I don’t write, the more impenetrable that wall becomes. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, the fear of not being able to write keeps me from writing.
It’s not due to lack of subject matter that I can’t write on these occasions. I have a long list of topics: from the illusory closeness of the screen, the innocence in the faces of people on old photographs, to how my notebooks are not meant as factual recordings of what happened but as a way to explore my thoughts.
Now that I’m not travelling, there are moments from past trips I could explore: the encounter with a prosthetics salesman in Iceland, how I sang Moon River in a minuscule karaoke bar in Kumamoto and the elephant that passed by me as I sat on a tree trunk in Sri Lanka.
The real problem is that, to write, I must feel a certain urgency coming from within, a sense of destination perhaps, and because of that imaginary wall, I have no access to my inner compass that guides and compels me.
It’s as though I’m not able to start a journey because I have no idea where I want to go and what the point of it would be.
I didn’t have that problem this morning when I went for a walk with Lucy, our French bulldog. She pulled me along; we turned right when she smelled something near the garbage can and then left so she could sniff a tree. Lucy trotted with brisk little steps, and I followed her.
She brought me to a street where I hadn’t been in years and drew me past the sidewalk cafes and the skateboard shop right to a hipster bakery where the smell of freshly baked bread must have drawn her attention long before I was able to detect it.
When, after our walk I sat down at my desk and stared at the blank screen, she came to sit by my chair and nestled her head against my leg. While I caressed her little head, I thought about the sense of adventure with which she approaches life. If I could apply that same zest and spontaneity to my writing, my thoughts will take me from one place to another until I end up somewhere unexpected but thoroughly sweet, just like this morning.
With Lucy as my guide dog, writing will be a piece of cake.