I am fascinated with how people think. Some people
process words as they are spoken into solid pieces
of information and data. Others transform spoken
and written words into self-constructed images.
As for me, I am an image person. While it makes
reading an adventure, it has its downside. Self-constructed
images can cause vicarious trauma if we are listening
intently to another person's traumatic experience.
As a psychotherapist I have a need to change disturbing
internal pictures for myself and for clients. One
exercise I use is the intentional creation of new
images through writing, using descriptive words.
The re-reading of the material created in a safe
place then becomes part of the internal landscape.
As you read the following piece, notice how you
process the words.
Where Do Turtles Go In Winter?
It is October in New England. I watch the greens
of summer turn to the brilliant shades of autumn.
The trees outside my window change to crimson reds,
bright yellows, oranges and deep purples. Elegant
cascades of color that become even more beautiful
as the leaves reflect in the water of the pond outside
my back door. I am privileged to watch the seasons
change in ribbons of watery reflections.
Each day that the weather allows, I set my kayak
afloat on the pond. I glide free and effortlessly
as my boat skims over the surface of the water.
My kayak rides have a purpose during the warm months.
I go turtle watching. Turtles are interesting creatures.
They come to sit on the shore, rocks and logs to
soak up the sunlight of summer and swim in the pond.
I believe that turtles have different personalities.
Some watch as I pass and are just as interested
in me as I am in them. Others jump into the water
in an effort to hide. I see their small faces peeking
up from the dark water to check on my whereabouts.
Some turtles are gone in a flash, returning to their
log as soon as I pass by. Those see me as an intruder
in their world and they have no time for me.
This October afternoon I set out with my kayak
and camera to take pictures of foliage and catch
final glimpses of my friends, the turtles. Only
a few remain now, their behavior already different,
slower, deliberate. A few trudge along the shoreline
eating plants, some look like black rocks all huddled
in their shells and only a few of the heartier ones
hold their heads out of the water to catch the last
rays of sunlight. Summer has lost its luster and
been replaced by cold nights, foggy mornings, shorter
days and cold pond water.
"Where do turtles go in winter," I ask
myself? "They breathe air and so how do they
survive all though the snowy months?" "Oh,
yeah, hibernation." I answer as if some science
teacher's ghost still lurks in the recesses of my
mind, coming forward to answer the question.
I imagine turtles snuggled up, inside their shells.
In my mind's eye, I can see them stuck in mud and
up to their eyeballs in wet brown leaves. Their
shallow breath taking in the familiar smell of earth.
Now would be the time, I think, when turtles are
choosing their winter beds.
The breeze feels cold and I reluctantly turn my
boat toward shore. I float between the last of the
wilting lily pads. My boat scrapes the beach sand
beneath it until it comes to rest gently on the
shore where it will stay until the next kayak ride.
What did you find out about yourself? Are you a
word or an image person?