Yesterday the man on a ladder outside my window teetered as he made little touch-ups to the paint along the eaves and softies. Two stories up, I sat at my desk writing, or, trying to write, and the man made the hardness of the writing melt into waves. A sensation buzzed from the space just above my head to the cranium itself and flowed down my head to my shoulders, my neck, shivers and tingles whirling up and down and I relaxed into the thought, the words, the sentences. I couldn’t see the man’s face. Only his shoes. But I could hear him. Some call this feeling ASMR. I’ve experienced it since I was a child and I call it “away-ken.” A feeling of being highly aware and totally relaxed at the same time. Being simultaneously awake and away, present and in some far off place. But like inspiration, like insight, it comes at unexpected times, by surprise, suddenly. It can’t be planned, can’t be brought on by YouTube videos of women whispering or men shining shoes. Can’t be forced. I could hear the man scraping methodically in the beautiful, careful rhythm that I’ve heard the times I’ve watched my craftsman father and brothers making shelves, fixing plumbing. When the awaken comes, it seems like a glimpse from another world.
I said this mood can’t be forced. But it can be cultivated, and I think everyone can away-ken, find that highly aware relaxed, almost hypnagogic, creative space.