It’s been about 46 years so I could be wrong, but I believe my earliest experiences with painting in school–probably in 1st grade–firmly established my unwavering and unconditional adoration of the color I now identify as cobalt blue. Although I already loved to read by then, my passion for writing was still a few years in the offing. So color beguiled me at the age of 6.
And it is a language unto itself. The bright cobalt t-shirt I’m wearing today feels energizing. It has long sleeves and is very soft, and is both comforting and mildly startling. I like that combination. As someone who wears mostly grays, black, and dark blues throughout the winter, a pop of cobalt feels like good medicine.
As for words, I have been undergoing a self-induced and gradual process of falling back in love with them after years of clinical writing have dulled my relationship with language (an unfortunate professional hazard). Reading Susan Wooldridge’s book poemcrazy got me back into the groove. Among other things, it inspired me to start playing with words, inventing new and ridiculous ones, being silly with them, making myself laugh.
I was also inspired by poet Denise Duhamel*, and her book-long poem that actually is a book, Mille et un sentiments. She did a poetry reading locally a few years back, and read parts of this list-poem, along with others. I started a list-poem of my own, and had a blast with it. When I turn my writing back into play, it becomes crazy and joyous and life-giving.
Another great idea (not my own, can’t remember whose, or I’d attribute properly) is to try writing with your non-dominant hand. Unscientifically speaking, this seems to override the part of your brain that you rely upon most, unleashing (in theory) a completely different sort of writerly experience. I’ve had some of my clients do this with varying degrees of success. It produced curious, right-brainish results for me. For one, I seem to have made contact with an alter-ego of sorts, a darkish and weird creature that identifies itself simply as “Coyote.”
*For a beautiful and devastating take on dementia, read Duhamel’s poem “Möbius Strip: Forgetfulness.” It’s in her book Two and Two.