I made a discovery last week: I don't fully experience an event until I've had time to process it—ideally, to write about it.
When I'm preparing for a trip, people say, "You must be so excited to [fill in the blank]." But I almost never am. Doing something is rarely exciting; having done something is what thrills me. I've always thought this to be weird, and even felt guilty about it. How crazy is it to appreciate an experience—even one I really enjoy—only when it's over?
The revelation I had last week is that it's all a matter of processing. Experiences bring a flood of sensory information that needs to be dealt with, and if I don't have that opportunity, the pressure builds up like a bad case of indigestion. This is why, for example, when I'm away from home for an extended baby-birth visit, I will sacrifice an hour or two of much-needed sleep to write a blog post. If I don't, more often than not my mind will rebel and not let me sleep anyway.
When I write about an event—even if the writing doesn't actually take physical form, though that's best—the experience coalesces into something coherent and memorable. That's when it becomes real.
Looking forward to reading