A few decades ago, I had a voice student who had a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and worked at RCA Labs (back when that company existed) on the high resolution camera that now allows us to see the stitching on a baseball thrown at some huge mph. A most rational man, he had developed a logical plan for creative thought. Before he went to bed, he thought about the problem he was facing at work. The next morning, while shaving, he consciously opened his mind to any wild thought that passed through it. That was often - not always - the solution to his problem.
My morning routine isn't intended to solve problems in my writing - I often get those answers right after I've quit writing for the day - it's just a routine required by old age. The thyroid pill 1/2 hour before breakfast; hot compresses and drops for my aging eyes; a few sips of last night's cold coffee to just get me going. But during that half hour, I often get wild ideas. And I know if I don't do something about them immediately, I'll later dismiss them as stupid.
I had one of those ideas Sunday morning. Last month I had contacted Sarah to ask if I could use her name and age to illustrate a point in an application I was writing. She did give me permission, but said she now had Parkinson's and had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Then early this month I met Christina Soriano, who teaches a dance class for those with Parkinson's and wants to add Alzheimer's patients. Loved her approach because she's able to counteract the smallness in steps, personhood, and voice that is so often a Parkinson's patient's response to the loss of balance. I emailed Sarah about this, wondering if there might not be such a program near her in Philadelphia.
Sarah replied that she could no longer drive. Of course, stupid me. I replied that I'd ask Christina's advice soon, but knew she was going through a particularly busy time right now. Then Sunday morning, with the hot compresses, I remembered that Kristina (I know, confusing, but this other friend's name is with a K), a friend who lives near Sarah, is a massage therapist who used to benefit from lots of different dance therapies. Then I remembered that I'd heard or read the day before that this particular Parkinson's dance program had originated at the Mark Morris studios. And I knew, from research for my dance book years ago, that he often took non-dancers into his troupe. Then I remembered that Christina (with a C) had said she had studied or interned at Mark Morris.
Bingo! I emailed Kristina (with a K), subject "A Wild Idea", with the above information, thinking she was close enough to NY to look into possible training at Mark Morris. The idea seemed so preposterous that I didn't look up the proper website for her, as I would ordinarily do.
Ten minutes later Kristina (with a K) emailed back with the info that there was such a dance program for Parkinson's at a hospital not 5 miles away and she and Sarah would be checking it out.
What amazes me is the process. A bit of research from 30 years ago, something I heard on NPR or read the day before, a memory of Kristina's (with a K) enthusiasm for dance therapy, all of this zip-zapped around the brain and collected into an idea that turned out not to be so wild after all.