Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Doldrums

I'm in the writing doldrums. Probably by my own doing. If I could just sit my butt down in front of the computer and forget about the dishes, the vacuuming, the emails piling up, and the dog that needs walking I could probably write freely. In an odd dichotomy I am stuck in the doldrums because life if moving too fast.

I'm fascinated by words that have multiple meanings (double and triple entendre opportunities!) and words that relate to life as well as the sea. In life--as well as writing--the doldrums mean "a state of inactivity or stagnation" or "a depressed or bored state of mind." (www.dictionary.com). Stagnation fits my writing habits "to a T" (that's right; it's "T" not "tee" or Tea" probably short for a "tittle" or some other mysterious origin). I have soooo many writing projects, some dreamt up, some actually started just sitting there in limbo, in stagnant water.

Which brings me to the other meaning of "doldrums," the nautical term: "a belt of light winds or calm along the equator" and "the weather experienced in this belt, formerly a hazard to sailing vessels." (British Dictionary) Living at the beach as I do I truly resonate with this imagery. Most days the water is moving, sometimes slow and steady waves, frequently waves that rush at the shore intent on breaking it down. But then there are days, like this morning, when a fog has obliterated the island across the way and the horizon and water, fog and sky are one color. And the water is simply, strangely still, save for the ripples sent out by diving and surfacing golden eyes and buffleheads. Although there are not many sailboats in our area, having been replaced with power boats that support the locals' habits of water-skiing, crabbing and shrimping, fishing and duck hunting, I can imagine what it might have been 200 years ago when British naval ships made their way into our little, shallow bay exploring areas to exploit. On a morning such as this they would have remained stationary, unable to move under any power but the wind which is hauntingly absent.

As I scrolled down the Dictionary.com site I came to the American Heritage©Science Dictionary's definition: "A region of the globe found over the oceans near the equator in the intertropical convergence zone and having weather characterized variously by calm air, light winds, or squalls and thunderstorms. Hurricanes originate in this region." Wait! As they say..."the plot thickens!" The doldrums, at least as far as scientists are concerned, are not identified by one characteristic or personality trait. They are, in fact, characterized by opposite ends of the spectrum--bipolar if you will. They are either calm and somewhat listless or raving maniacs wreaking havoc either way. My eyes settled on the last phrase: "hurricanes originate in this region."

From a weather-related point of view, hurricanes are not a happy event, something to be watched carefully and planned for diligently. But in writing I think hurricanes could mean something else entirely. I could see a hurricane as a sudden burst of inspiration that leads to a period of intense literary activity. There is hope in the doldrums! If only I'd just sit my butt down...

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