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Fitting title for Memorial day. And so what was abandoned, is now revived.
I’ve been steadily plugging on, and many paths have opened up to me upon the way. From that, I begin to see the similarities in what sparks my passion. I also begin to see the faint outlines of the self-imposed blinders that keep me from walking more than small ways upon these paths. Still, I find myself very lucky. Along the way I have made friendships that have furthered my journey. Some fall by the wayside, some remain; all are valued for the time spent.
I feel that I have been standing on the edge of the diving board for some time. Eyeing the water, occasionally blinded by the reflections upon it. The perfectionist in me, nodding tightly as the shroud of fear keeps it ever ready, doesn’t want me to leap. It rattles off disastrous things that haven’t happened in my ear, wishing only for things to stay the same. Nothing good, but oh so familiar.
Yet I’ve found a way to be alone, but not alone. All those that I hold dear are in the water, beckoning for me to join them. The water can be uncomfortable, they admit, and yet, it is summer now and all that is left for me to do is swim.
And thus I will jump!
I’m reading a thoughtful article in the January issue of Shambhala Sun, titled “What Makes Us Free”. In it Joseph Goldstein was speaking about “wise speech” and remarking on how few of us take the time to slow down before we speak. Then he went on to say how he enjoyed watching his mind about to engage in “useless talk”. (a very stark rendering of two delightful paragraphs)
Now, I suppose, from a mindfulness viewpoint, I failed reading this article, because at that point my mind wandered off to the video by Shimi Cohen (See here) that used quite a bit of Sherry Turkle’s TED talk (See here) and the art of writing, two very separate things, but suddenly related in my mind, because of this article.
You didn’t used to think of writing as something as “useless talk”. When someone bothered to take the time and write it down, there was, almost by default, more weight added to the words. But when you dig down into the craft of writing, there is the constant exhortation to just get it down; and that means that quite a bit of it is going to be “useless”, which may key into why there is so much resistance to the practice. When I think of images of writers, I don’t see frivolous images. I see respectable, slow, thoughtful images. Images that speak of knowledge or wisdom. With that in mind, why ever would you want to burst that bubble and write down whatever garbage just filled your mind when you saw that rose get half its petals knocked off by the careless delivery man? No, most of us see writing as the communication of “wise speech”, grocery list notwithstanding.
How does Ms. Turkle fit into this? Well, she has a different take on “useless speech”. Those things you say and get called on, or later think of at 3 a.m. and wince; the speech that happens in real time, those words. She feels that having these conversations, even the parts filled with “useless speech”, are critically important in developing the skill to have conversations with ourselves, and that is something intrinsically valuable to our stability. So we could say, in this different context, that she is pro “useless speech” if the alternative is only “crafted speech”. Interesting, because writing is, was, crafted speech. Censored speech. Edited speech.
But that is diving into absolutes. Mr. Goldstein was not advocating not speaking, he was advocating more mindful speech. Ms. Turkle is not advocating the shunning of communications technology, merely to be more mindful on how we use it, lest we loose an important part of ourselves. So, when you are faced with a jumble of words and images that you know, know, you should get down on paper – it’s alright. It will be messy and ugly and if there was a Pulitzer for shallowness, put you firmly in the running, but put it down anyway. Because it’s so much better than the alternative: a blank page for the day.
That is the stuff that we work with. Once it’s out of our head and lying on the page in front of us, we can begin to craft with it. Until then, there’s no material to work with. Artists in more physical mediums go out and purchase that stuff. Then, depending on the craft, build up or remove to expose what their intention is. Isn’t it great? We don’t have to stand in line in the checkout! There’s that.
What if it’s really, truly, bad and we can’t work with it, no matter how hard we try? Then we could go back to the words of Mr. Goldstein and Ms. Turkle and cultivate the mindfulness that they are recommending. Mindfulness to our speech, to our actions and the impact of them, will raise the quality of them. The inner dialog matters. Mindfulness of that dialog will help you sit, alone at your page, without fear as to what will happen.
And as you settle, the genuine will peek through and you’ll have a conversation, not just a connection.
I think I’m ready to share once more.
Still tap, tap, tapping on keys. Finally have all those books, the ones that I listed at the launch of this journey, actually resonate and make sense. I know, they were written in my native tongue, and I felt I understood the words at the time; but now I’m deeper into the practice and I feel the words now, in my bones. Chapters that I had read before, I read again and have that “Ah!!hhh!” moment, the perfect exhalation.
I write now, everyday, something. Sometimes small jots. Usually forum posts, mine and theirs. I have projects, all that revolve around writing. I do not travel without my Evernote notebook, and it is actually filling bit, by bit.
I’m realizing that my process is a very internal process. When I feel that something isn’t right, I may not see why. I go dark on it, and won’t touch it for a time. Then, when I come back around to it, I have a fresh idea, and the problem, previously unrecognized, is understood and dealt with. So now, instead of feeling despair when I cannot apply myself to a section, I do not worry and instead trust that I will come back to it. I do make a point to writing somewhere else. Something made easier now that I understand that failure is not the issue.
I’ve also learned to stop resisting my interests, and so am capitalizing on my passion for the emergent social groups that can form in the popular MMORPG: World of Warcraft. There are many ways to get good use of my skills there. It gives back, too, as I am free to find like-minded others at unconventional hours, perfect for my way of life now.
So, I believe I will move to the next phase, and use this as a day-to-day snapshot of bringing writing skills to bear. How a project actually needs a tool such as Scrivener. The frustrations of Word. Juggling the right mix of output and input. Life, of course, happening through it all.
So from me to you: Greetings! Back into the fray!