Recently, I came within an inch of plunking down a bunch of money, getting on a plane, and spending a week at a retreat house in County Cork, Ireland. My goal was to participate in a workshop, one that I was hoping would ultimately help me to become a better writer through the use of new listening skills. I found the method, Proprioceptive Writing, through a search and found that it was to be offered this April at the lovely Anan Cara Retreat House. I shared the news of my find with another writer-friend and her interest was peaked to the level at which she did some searching on her own and happily announced one day that she had found a workshop in Portland, Maine. Now, while the thought of being on a creative retreat in Ireland sounded sinfully good, I honestly did not look forward to leaving the country and exchanging my dollars for Euros. I've had enough of both and am contented with my choice to stay in this beautiful country and reap the benefits of being an American for as long as they last.
So, Bev and I hit the road on Friday and we did not look back once,only stopping for lunch before we arrived at the lovely cottage she found for our stay, at Scarborough Beach, Maine. After settling in, we set my phone's GPS and bounded off into the cold of downtown Portland. It did not take me too long to start what I have been mentally doing for quite some time now.....wondering about life in this seacoast city. Never having been to Portland, I had very little to guide me but my visceral thoughts.Being a sucker for cobblestone streets and artsy shops and tiny ethnic eateries, I fell instantly in love and very envious of those who call this place home. We poked around a bit, found the best-ever vintage shop, and at six o'clock, arrived at the Maine College of Art which is located right, smack in the heart of the downtown. Room 200. Six places at a table. Our instructor, Charles, friendly and welcoming. Not one bit of intimidation, not yet at least, that would come later. The other four students filed in, took their places, and for that evening, the entire next day, and half of Sunday, we wrapped ourselves in discovering PW. We learned to write our minds alive and I can't begin to explain any of it to you.
Let me just say that Proprioceptive Writing or the Proprioceptive Method as it should really be called, is not about "writing" at all. It might be easiest for the reader here to Google the whole thing but even after you do so, it is highly unlikely that you will fully understand it. I still have a hard time getting it all. Even our instructor, one who has been actively practicing the method for thirty-some years, has a hard time explaining the metaphor. Proprioceptors are in the medical world. We began a practice of using something that is so far from the medical world, it's ridiculous. Those who practice Proprioceptive Writing are not focusing on writing at all, and it has nothing to do with health. Wellness? Maybe. Listening? Totally. Learning to listen to thoughts, to give them a life, to question them, validate them, play with them, and find ways to use them or at the very least, trust them. What world does that belong to? Hmmm.
So, in twelve hours, we did four "Writes". The only scary moment came after the first of them when Charles told us that now, we must read out loud, what we had just written. Of course, I balked, not understanding that this was so much a part of the process. He was reassuring, encouraging, but not demanding and, after the first person read, I held my hand up high and became the second reader. Just as he had promised, nothing bad happened to anyone in this class just as nothing bad has ever happened in any other Proprioceptive Workshop, anywhere in the world. Only good. Good, good, good.