published Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Roberts: Lolling breeds ideas


by Dalton Roberts

In 1996 I wrote in my journal, "Not having a regular day job and being able to do my own thing has given me some new and delicious pleasures. Like lolling in bed until I am ready to get up. And lolling with the morning paper as long as I like. And lolling with a crossword or quote acrostic. Lolling, lolling, lolling. I think I am turning into a big lollipop!"

Mother used a word I cannot remember anyone else ever saying: bolly foxing. Judging by the context and the situations where she used it, I think it means about the same thing as lolling.

It may sound like lolling and bolly-foxing are a lazy man's game, but this activity produces a world of creative ideas. We often forget that everything starts with an idea. Ideas are the most powerful creative force in the universe. And nothing opens the gates of our creative consciousness like a relaxed, non-directive rumination.

I wrote Nat Stuckey's hit song, "Don't Pay the Ransom," while driving from Chattanooga to Charleston, W.Va. It is simply incredible how many good songs I have written on long trips. I call it "white-line lolling." There's something about that white line that hypnotizes us. Ideas flow, and it's good to have a hand-held recorder to catch them.

It does not make you less mindful about driving. It just trips open that magic door of intuition and allows ideas to flow.

I have often regretted how much time I spent drinking in my early years. Especially the loss of creativity. Songwriter Malcolm Holcombe told me, "Nothing is wasted," and I guess he meant something good comes out of every experience in our life. Still, I think I would have been much more productive and written a lot more songs if I had spent my time lolling. Plus, I have never had a hangover from lolling.

One thing more Mother meant by bolly foxing was impulsive wandering and meandering about town -- just getting in the car and going here and there in some impulsive, aimless way. My sister hits pawn shops and thrift stores like this, and it is incredible some of the goodies she picks up to enjoy and share with family and friends. It is no wonder that she writes an incredible volume of inspirational poetry. Her aimless wandering induces an alpha state of awareness, and most creative work is done when alpha brain waves kick in.

Remember that ideas are not just something songwriters and poets need. No matter the kind of work you do, ideas are important to your success. While in college, I was working for minimum wage at the Salvation Army bookstore in Nashville, and my supervisor said, "You are always giving me ideas to improve our operation, so I am going to give you a bonus. But I will have to pay you with books." I was a lifetime bookaholic and was dirt-poor, but my ideas kept me in books. And most of my ideas came from lolling around thumbing through those old books.

So don't apologize for the time you spend lolling, and don't fret about the gas you burn bolly-foxing. Observe the kinds of activities that put you into that relaxed frame of mind where ideas flow.

E-mail Dalton Roberts at DownhomeP@aol.com.

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