paying attention

Tom and I are currently working hard on separate projects.

Tom is developing some of his studio techniques, exploring different ways of depicting the textural qualities of vegetables and flowers.

I’m writing about my recovery from stroke, and for the past fortnight have been working on a chapter specifically about my left hand, and the work I did assisting it to redevelop function.

I sat down with the usual writerly anxieties: could I possibly write a whole chapter just about my hand and me? It turns out that I can. But in order to do so, I have had to work hard to think myself back into my immediately post-stroke body, to recall the specificity of that experience, and to communicate that specificity in a way that I hope will prove engaging or useful to the reader.

Thinking and writing in what is proving to be quite an immediate, intimate way, is an act that continually poses questions for me, both philosophical and somatic. But at a basic level, both the thinking and the writing — much like the experience of recovery itself, in fact — are really just about paying attention.

It occurred to me, looking at Tom’s recent photographs this morning, how very similar our two projects are.

Tom seems to be exploring a whole visual language of attentiveness.

And each of his new images suggests to me a different reward of close attention-paying.

I suppose I’m finding paying attention quite rewarding too.