Today I bought a bowl created by an artist in Swaziland. It is made out of magazine pages stitched together - a bowl of words. This lovely and practical piece of art gave me a wonderful idea. Why not start my own collection of words to put in my bowl? Maybe a magazine article or a wonderful turn of phrase from one of my students? Even snippets of conversation I hear while sitting in cafes or riding BART or fortunes from fortune cookies. For some reason the idea of a bowl full of words gives me great pleasure. If they are words I simply collect instead of write myself, there will be less pressure for me to be brilliant. Since I seem to be going through a rather dry writing period right now, perhaps my bowl of words will shake something loose in me. I like the idea that those words will have their own physical life in their bowl home - a more tangible presence than if they were written in a notebook.
I think the first words I will put in my bowl are the beginning lyrics to the Tears for Fears song "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." Remember that band from the 1980's? Today when I was driving home with my bowl, I heard this song on the radio. It's one of those songs that I turn up full blast whenever I hear it. It has become "mine" because it always conjures up the memory of a pivotal moment in my life. I listened to it while packing for my first solo trip to Europe. I was 30 years old, and the opening line "Welcome to your life. There's no turning back..." hit me profoundly. Those were the kinds of words that meant a lot to me when I was 30 and scared to death about what life might bring me.
See, the bowl is working already.