How the Time Flies…

It’s hard to imagine that a month has passed since Easter, when I moved into my new flat. I kicked into gear as soon as I got here and have been putting in 30-hour writing weeks since. That may explain my recent online silence. I notice I am doing less writing ‘on the side’ after I put in my daily hours, even simple e-mail correspondence.

But life continues to open up in beautiful and mysterious ways. Even in the midst of what I might have previously called ‘mundane routine’, the stunning gift of simply being here is so clear. It’s crazy that we ever pull ourselves away from this simplest of truths, our very presence. We can never acquire more, nor accomplish anything greater than our own being. It’s already here – the true ‘juice’ of life. It’s completely free. Unencumbered. Unimpressed with our efforts and successes. Yet ever-willing to hold our ‘failures’, softening our hearts into their natural openness.

***

Last week I felt the earth move. Within the relatively small South American nation of Ecuador, I was about as far as possible from the epicentre of the earthquake, but it still shook my home and my body. I scurried about my second-storey apartment wondering where the safest place to stand was. I pulled on some pants and ran outside. By the time I got out, it was done. But it was a humbling experience. A valuable reminder of our tender place on this planet. I can’t imagine how intense the earthquake must have been for those closest to it.

Many people have died. Others have had dreams, plans and properties ruined. But life carries on. The support effort is in full swing throughout Ecuador. All around I see people collecting supplies and others heading for the coast in an attempt to rebuild. I see, once again, the gift of life at work in this. At once subtle and stunningly obvious – the connective fabric of love is driving everything, stirring each of us from the very heart of life. We want to help others in pain. It’s so natural. We want to help others survive, to rekindle their health and hope.

I suppose this is what drives my writing, too. Certainly at the depth level – just love expressing itself. But as it filters through my heart and my life experience, I want to support people on their journey through the mystery of existence. Having trudged through incredible density and darkness (all self-created), I want people to see that we can become free again (realizing we never left) and that we can dance anew in the land of our birth – pure levity and light. There are no lasting walls – they are all imagined.

By entering our softer spaces, by honouring our uncertainty, we can open into ourselves more honestly, seeing this ground to be firmer than all the concrete on earth. This is where life arises from. But we cannot hold it in the way we are used to clutching our ideas and experiences. This ground calls for a continual opening, a blossoming, stretching us out through our hearts.

I am grateful for the freedom to express my heart so casually here. As I move through my daily writing, I am often brushing aside these more ‘esoteric’ stretches, keeping things more ‘grounded’. But even this ‘grounded’ work is only a bridge into the spacious mystery of the heart.

It sometimes feels funny to be pouring myself so earnestly and with such discipline into something that I know doesn’t matter in itself. Like anything else in existence, my story is a vessel at best. Perhaps its lone purpose is growth – a snake-skin to be shed once exhausted. I simply don’t know. But the freedom from any need to know spurs such trust and peace that I can continue pouring love into the project daily without worry.

***

I also feel grateful for friendship here in Cuenca. Since I have been ‘working harder’ and writing more consistently, it has been important to be out and about around town, bumping into friends here and there. I appreciate my weekly writing group. I am grateful to have had the chance to share yet again at the Spoken Word event last week, and another chance to sing songs with friends at Open Mic. And I am grateful for the full house I had here at my place last night…hosting ten for a meal, six of us staying for games night. Cranium was so much fun! 🙂 And of course, lots of music carrying the evening along.

My dear friends, Zach and Kristen, are a wonderful couple that have connected me with countless other good people around town and I am especially grateful for their friendship. And there are always fun people passing through town for a month or a couple of weeks, and it is great to connect with them too! I love the community life here in Cuenca, even as I continue to value my solitude, mining it for its own treasures.

On a semi-related note, I think I can admit (with sufficient humility) that my guacamole is getting pretty darn good. I am looking forward to taking my recipe and patient approach home to Canada in the summer and sharing it with family and friends! Keep your eyes peeled for me, and have your taste-buds ready!

***

I guess that’s about it for today…  As ever, here are some more photos from around town, and out my window, and one from the couch upon stirring from a siesta just about an hour ago… 😉

Panorama from my flat...

Panorama from my flat…

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Cleaning is Loving; Respecting Our Spaces

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I learned a lot while cleaning. I was only working with Zenith for a couple of months but I had ample opportunity to explore the practice of revealing beauty. I sense that every space has an inherent beauty of some kind. But without our care and attention these spaces so easily become dusty and cluttered, often falling into decline. Of course, if left to nature, a beauty of its own would take over, but for as long as we build self-contained spaces we are also left with the responsibility to maintain them. This can be taken on as an honour. We can become stewards of our spaces, a job so widely neglected, cleaning not only tangible dirt but generally preparing spaces for purposeful and productive use.

As I touched upon in my first article about cleaning, the title of custodian is actually one of great dignity, despite what our society may have come to think about it. A custodian is not merely someone to pick up trash. They are guardians of spaces. A true custodian cares. This makes more difference than we could ever know. An appreciative presence goes a long way.

In whatever work we may be doing, we need not act as if we are robots, locked in a strict task-oriented mode of operation. We can be carried by a spirit of wonder and love. This gives life to our activities, subtly perfuming the spaces we perform them in with love. Living like this can become an act of service. When we move through spaces with the wisdom and will to serve, working with patience and persistence, our entire landscape changes from the inside out. We become calmer and more present. A natural extension of this attitude expresses itself in the form of more caring behaviour, benefiting the very spaces themselves.

See for yourself. Take time to appreciate the spaces you move through in your day to day life. Your attention will create a stronger connection with the spaces and thus a greater care for them. After some time you may find yourself seeing through new eyes in every space you inhabit. You may also begin to notice things you once overlooked, gaining valuable insights into your own life.

I found that as I cleaned – occasionally catching myself preoccupied with speed, working in a mechanistic frame of mind – simply stopping to appreciate the space again found me working more smoothly and efficiently. Since coming home to my parents’ condo in Toronto, my sharper eye for detail has spotted little bits of dirt in various places I had never before noticed. And my care for this home space has found me moving from awareness to action, if only simply and briefly, gently tending the vessel holding the life of my family.

The act of cleaning can change the lens through which we see life. I encourage you to clean something and see for yourself. Make a new habit for a few weeks to clean spaces you usually don’t. Experiment with this and see what you reveal in your home and your life. I’d love to hear what happens!

🙂

Balance

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

– Albert Einstein

Balance

I used to feel as though I was walking a razor’s edge. I had it in my mind that I was navigating a particularly intense brand of balance. I imagined that my balance was especially broad, reaching out to extremes on either side. This was all a story, of course. It wasn’t necessarily untrue, but it was only a story. I was perpetuating it by believing it (and even more so by telling it).

I imagined that I could increase my freedom by increasing my discipline. While it could be said that I was slowly giving myself more and more permission to exercise my freedom through my discipline, I see now that complete freedom was already my birthright, as I feel it is for everyone. Accepting this simple gift is often the hard part.

I feel now as though real balance is effortless. It’s already here. There is nothing we can do to bring it about. This doesn’t mean we can’t work toward goals, but I think we become less likely to invest expectations in specific outcomes. Even as I work on various projects, I continue to be firm with myself at times and quick to forgive myself when I falter. It seems less and less important to arrive at an end result.

My self-discipline is no longer about expectations, but is based more on standards. I feel if we can set ourselves higher standards, accepting that we will fall short of them at times, we will nevertheless stretch and test ourselves, growing beyond what we thought we were capable of. In this light, being able to accept short-term ‘failure’ can actually strengthen us, helping us develop a greater sense of determination and resilience. This patient persistence, when steadily applied, can eventually bring us into the silence of our own centre – our own hearts – where everything unessential begins to burn up and fall away.

But on our way here, balance is clearly a key to well-being. Living in balance can be seen as a ‘sweet spot’ where we let ourselves move through life without getting tangled up in fleeting experiences. We can cherish and celebrate all parts of life as they pass, but we need not resist nor cling to anything we experience. Easier said than done, obviously, but this is keeping balance – not trying to manipulate events or relationships to unfold as we want them to, but simply honouring them as they are.

At times, however, our balance can appear rather delicate, even slippery and sharp. As I mentioned before, it can feel like we are walking a razor’s edge, rigid and slick on either side. But even this can be seen in perspective. We can stop, take a deep breath and re-frame our narrative, realizing we’re more than likely caught up in thought. Balance doesn’t require cracking some code or figuring anything out. It is more like giving life full permission to do what it will with us.

There are countless ways to look at balance – there are too many frames to fathom and factors far beyond our figuring. It seems then that living life in balance takes a measure of faith. Stomaching some uncertainty seems vital. A tolerance for paradox may help us along the way, while we’re at it. It even feels like being ‘out-of-balance’ from time to time can be a part of anchoring in our overall balance. That sounds a bit crazy, but I feel it is true.

A phrase came to mind some time ago which feels relevant here. When it first occurred to me I intuitively sensed a deep truth in it, even though it didn’t necessarily make logical sense: ‘A return to balance is inevitable. A departure from balance is impossible.’ It seems to point to the fact that nature is taking care of everything. We need not struggle and strain. Life operates in balance, even when it seems to be completely out of whack. After all, what do we really know about the big picture if we’re in the middle of it?

After tasting some of the extremes at either end of the emotional spectrum and realizing they eventually level themselves out (despite ourselves), I have developed both a deeper respect for balance and a greater faith in it. Now I see balance wherever I look. Occasionally I catch myself yearning for more, which seems crazy. More balance? That sounds impossible. I like to laugh at myself when I see a thought like that pass by.

It seems that real balance is beyond value judgements. It’s the centre. How could we possibly amplify it? At best, we can look inside and let it level us out. Despite being drilled with heavy doses of duality every day, our attention often being pulled in opposite directions, we can take time to be still and submerge in our centre. This is a shared space, beyond comparison, beyond competition, beyond conflict of any kind. In this quiet core, when we let everything else collapse, we come to see the balance that never needed to assert itself. It has always been here.  It is beyond measure. How can there be any less? How can there be any more than all there is?

Einstein

Trust balance. Keep moving forward.

🙂

Honesty

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Honesty is the best policy. We have all heard it many times before – and it seems a reasonable code to honour. But how often do we really live it from the depth of our hearts? I guess I can start by sharing that I don’t really know what to say today. Yet here I sit writing – for its own sake, I suppose. I have been in the habit of publishing a post every Monday for a while now, and I wish to keep my rhythm rolling. It is a routine more for myself than anyone else.

Even as I intend my writing to be an act of service, I am aware that relatively few people are reading these words. Perhaps my service is starting out simply – I don’t know. Either way, I try not to get caught up in chasing some vision of the future. I feel I can best serve others through complete honesty and unconditional acceptance of this moment as it is. As grateful as I am for every person reading these posts (THANK YOU!), I have to admit that just getting myself into the habit of outward self-expression is a large motivating factor. I feel it is a healthy habit, aside from what I might actually be saying.

Someone recently asked me (in reference to my blog) if I minded ‘hollering into a vacuum.’ I didn’t know how to respond. I wondered for a moment if we are all doing just that, on some level – hollering into a vacuum. At least we’re doing it together, I thought. But does it really matter if we get any notice for our work? For the most part, I don’t seem to mind doing my work without getting any attention or recognition. I am grateful to express myself. And if someone tells me that my post meant something to them, it is a feather in my cap, icing on the cake.

So when I came to face the blank page today, wondering what I wanted to holler out into this particular vacuum, I found myself looking over some old notes on balance. ‘A return to balance is inevitable. A departure from balance is impossible.’ I thought about re-working my notes into something for today’s post, but had to admit that I no longer feel the same way I felt when I wrote it. Not exactly, anyhow. And I also admitted that a part of me wanted to recycle my old writing just to get the ball rolling, just to have something on the page. That didn’t feel like a very honest motivation for self-expression. So I let it go.

As I slipped off to sleep last night I thought about how I was feeling (that being uncomfortably stuffed with hummus and mixed nuts), and I wanted to strip down any remnant layers of pretence and protection to be as open and honest as possible. I had been dreaming, the day before, of constructing a post that would inspire people and maybe relieve some suffering, but as I tossed and turned last night, mildly disappointed with myself, I didn’t feel worthy of standing on any soapbox and saying much of anything. I slept poorly and skipped my 5 AM alarm.  When I finally awoke at 8:30, I didn’t give guilt any room to roam. After a surprisingly strong yoga session and a very quiet and calming meditation, I arose to write.

Honestly, I have no idea what’s going on. I’m only just journeying through the mystery as we all are. These days, my certainties seem to crumble as quickly as they are built. I can’t say I mind. Even though well-intentioned, I recognize that I sometimes slip into some sort of ‘preachy’ tone in my writing. Though I want to share words of truth, nuggets of wisdom, seeds of peace, freedom and love – all born of my own experience – I don’t feel I have the right to tell anyone how to find anything in their own lives. I know there is something deep within us which we all share, but my saying so, and my desire to show people where ‘to find it’ may not mean much to anyone but me. At best, I can just speak my heart, whatever it seems to be saying at any given moment, and trust that to be sufficient in itself. Whatever it may spark in others is simply not up to me.

And in the spirit of total honesty, right now as I sit here and write, my body responding to our home growing colder with the seasons’ shifting, a bit of sunshine has made its way to my window and I am going to lie down on a sheepskin on the floor and just enjoy the warmth of the light for a while. I don’t want to waste this precious sunlight, abundant though it is. As the colder seasons approach, I am suddenly moved to take full advantage of every ray of light reaching through my window. I’ll return to my composition shortly. 🙂

peace

Hours have passed. I have combed through the above text now and dusted it up only slightly, and the sun has faded from the window. A thin ceiling of cloud now passes by, little blips of blue showing signs of the open space beyond. I am feeling fairly easy. I have not had the most motivated Monday, but I am at peace, and that seems good enough for me. I hope that, on some level, this simple slice of honest peace is serving the wider world.  See you next week.

Back to Work

I have been on a long break.  Four months, essentially.  After nearly a year of hard work (for which I have little ‘to show’ at the moment), I took a good long break.  I went wandering through South America.  I have been home for more than a month and I am just now getting back into the groove.  Or trying.  I am committed to a firm work schedule and I am challenging myself to meet deadlines, both short-term and long-term.  But I will not risk taking it seriously.  Throughout all of this work, I know there is nothing important that I can actually accomplish.  Everything of real importance is already sorted out.  It’s all sewn up.  The best I can do is remind someone of what they already know.

 

Nonetheless, I can be playful with this creative project, exercising the discipline necessary to write the beautiful story I have been living.  I am living.  I believe we all have a beautiful story to tell.  We can each see for ourselves.  My story is just one more drop in the ocean.  Although it is all true, believing it can be distractive – certainly for myself, but perhaps for you too.  It can pull us away from the most important part – the heart – the real core of the story, which remains unspoken.  This is the same of any story, I feel.  Instead of getting lost in the various facts and details, allow yourself to sense the undercurrent carrying it all along, and, most importantly, notice how you feel.  Facing these feelings will help us to see what we need to see, or, more aptly, how we need to see.  Not that there is any great need, per se, though we certainly won’t regret the ensuing insight.

 

We can’t fake feelings.  They can’t be manufactured, as far as I understand.  We certainly influence them, and, on one level, we have set them all in motion, but as feelings arise in the moment, their presence cannot be denied.  Although we try our best to look away from certain feelings, we only succeed in saving them for later.  This sort of repression can be likened to a subtle form of procrastination.  Often it is blatant.  Eventually, we have to face it all.  And it seems that through observing all of these feelings, our stories unravel.  The little narratives that have carried us along for most of our lives begin to weaken and slip away.  And the overarching story becomes more beautiful in the process.  It doesn’t change the events that have transpired, necessarily, but we come to see more clearly what our actual relationship with them is.

 

And this can seem scary, at first.  It often does.  These feelings are pretty raw.  They are powerful.  And we feel exposed in such honest self-reflection.  But before long we begin to feel freer and lighter, more and more willing to face whatever else may be lingering in the depths, preventing our peace, which is ever-present and forever available to us.  But we cannot reach for it.  We can only allow it.  And sometimes this takes work.  Facing ourselves in all honesty, examining the stories we have been telling ourselves (and others) is indeed hard work.  But it is most definitely worth our while.

 

I have a friend who once told me that life is a long weekend.  As soon as I heard it, I loved the idea.  I felt it to be deeply true.  I shared this philosophy widely for a while, but soon began wondering where life’s inevitable work factors in.  I have also heard it said that when you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.  But I wonder if maybe it takes a bit of work to get to that point.  I feel that sometimes hard work is exactly what we need.  And we don’t always want to do it.  Where does hard work fit within the framework of a long weekend?  I suppose if we are up at the cottage and need to fix the deck, or the dock, a bit of hard work is unavoidable.  And this tends to feel pretty good, once done, but is often a bit of a slog to get through.  While this seems to contradict popular philosophies urging us to ‘follow your bliss’ or ‘do what you love’, I feel that hard work can be a valuable part of our love, strengthening our endurance.  Our love provides enough space to bury our heads from time to time and plough through unpleasant tasks.  And when we break through, we usually feel the rewards of our hard work.

 

And the hardest work of all may be complete effortlessness.  Can we sit in perfect stillness?  Can we watch ourselves quietly and patiently to observe our most deeply rooted habits and stories?  Give it a try, and you may see that truly doing ‘nothing at all’ is rather difficult.  This sort of paradox is often unsettling for our minds.  But if we allow ourselves to simply observe this apparent paradox, and our reaction to it, eventually the inner storm will settle, and we can come to see that so-called ‘cut and dry’ or ‘black and white’ distinctions are not what they appear.  These divisions created in the mind are more like the two sides of a coin.  Eventually, all opposites meet in the middle.  And this is balance, as strange as it may seem to us at first.

 

So, for the next six months or so, I endeavour to balance hard work and great discipline with patience and peace, honouring the effortless, all-embracing love at the centre of it all.  With very rare exceptions (perhaps none at all!) I will be posting at least one update here per week, aiming for Mondays.  Aside from this, my main project will be rising early to slowly approach the mass of words I have gathered over the past year or so.  By chopping, trimming and softly massaging these words, I hope to find the core of the story coursing through them and allow it to emerge and string together some sort of coherent whole.  It will most certainly be hard work, but I will allow my love to lead me through it.

 

I wish you all the best as you endeavour to let your love lead you through whatever hard work may be facing you.  It can’t be avoided forever.  Once we get at it, we are wiser and stronger for the sheer will to step up and face each passing feeling, whatever it may be.  Pleasure and pain come and go, but the truth of love underpins and transcends it all.  See this and be free.

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An Update on Recent Writing – Reflecting on Self-Creation

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It seems I have not been writing much lately. That’s what it seems like – especially if you look here. But appearances can be deceiving. In fact, I have not written so much in all of my life as I have in the past month (though not in volume, certainly in consistency and pace).

I have clicked in to gear, even while failing and recommitting dozens of times daily, and I am producing more work than I could have imagined. I must admit that it was a deadline which spurred me on. I am hitting the road again in two weeks – leaving this old home of mine, this beautiful cocoon – and I have amped up my discipline in hopes of finishing the first draft of this massive book I have been working on. It has grown a bit out of control, and I have no idea what will become of it, but I can’t say I mind. I have discovered the true value of this creation is the creation itself – the act of creation, not the outcome. Truly expressing ourselves is an incredible path to truth and freedom. Results are far less than secondary, and never final.

I had been dreaming this book up while I travelled around Europe, and I was telling people all about it along the way. Over the past year (particularly the past seven months) I have finally been writing it. It has tasted some wild highs and lows, and yet I have been blessed to mostly sit back and observe these extremes with plenty of perspective, not getting too wrapped up in the waves.

It has been one of the greatest challenges of my life. I have never worked so hard before. It has been entirely effortless at times, and lots of fun. More often, though, it has called for a depth of discipline I never knew I had access to. And yet taking space to relax and do absolutely nothing has been just as vital as the work, allowing things to settle and connect. There is a fine line, a razor’s edge, that seems like a complete paradox, which finds me pouring myself completely into this project, my life story, even as I know, simultaneously, that it is ultimately meaningless. It doesn’t matter one iota. Not in the big picture. It will never fully express what it endeavours to express, and yet I sense it can express much more, too. So I guess it’s just for fun. I don’t know if I have merely imagined these ideas, but they have at least enabled me to create without attaching any importance to the result of the work.

I have been learning a lot as I have been writing this memoir. This matters far more to me than the thoughts, feelings and stories I have been collecting. I see that the work is, at once, entirely for myself and also an act of total service. It might just end up the world’s longest, most self-absorbed and self-revelatory journal entry ever. I honestly don’t care if anyone ever reads it. But I will keep working away at it, to bring it as near as possible to the state of being ‘finished’, whatever that might mean. I trust that I will know when it gets there, or someone will slap me and take it from me. Either way.

The act of composition is a funny one. It seems as if we are all doing it anyway, largely unconsciously, weaving our little life stories as we walk along our road, making it all fit, feeding it with meaning. To bring our narrative under the light of real seeing, however, exposing it to the naked page, is a daring act. It can be absolutely terrifying. I’m not patting myself on the back here, claiming to be particularly brave or courageous, either. In fact, I’ve never felt more consistently vulnerable in all my life. But I feel that this vulnerability, this uncertainty, has become some kind of strength. I am learning to lean into this mystery. I know intuitively that life is real in this raw open space. And I am doing my best to live from this tender, authentic centre more and more.

This is a complete reversal of the general operating principles that seem to have prevailed in recent western society. They seem to have prevailed. But we know that appearances can be deceiving. I see that these principles, of conquest, competition and consumerism – principles of capitalism, basically – are eroding the very foundation upon which they rest. The bloodsport of money, which we call an economy, if left to its own devices, ends up with one person holding it all. What good will it do them, or anyone else? Life goes on. Balance is inescapable. We don’t need money. Life existed before it, and will long outlast it. Seeds sprout and food grows. We share and we eat. We build, we live and we love. In the end, human community prevails.

But I have digressed, and will reel it in before this becomes a rant. I am nearly done a draft.  Then it is time for a break. On March 5th I have a flight booked to Cuba. I am chaperoning a mission trip. I will likely be out of touch for the duration of my stay. I have a one-way flight booked to Venezuela on March 19th. I am hoping to drop in on a few friends scattered about South America. I have had some friends and family members question why I am starting in Venezuela. I have even had a few urge me not to go, citing political instability and great social unrest. I can’t say I know why I am going, but I trust life entirely, and I trust that a way will be made for me. If I am not meant to go there, something will come up and intuition will guide me elsewhere.

I believe this is the case for all of us. I believe that if we walk out in the direction of our dreams, even if it takes us straight through our greatest fears, we will awaken more and more to our deepest and truest self. This journey need not be literal. The real journey is within, though sometimes it may also be mirrored outside of ourselves. We are all creators, building our lives, blindly or otherwise. The more we see, the more pure our creation becomes. But it is dangerous to consider ourselves as ‘in control’. Stop trying to arrive.  We’re already here. I feel the best service any of us can do is to simply let all that is inside of us out. A lofty ambition, perhaps, but absolutely worthwhile – essential, even. This pure creation is even closer to us than within reach; I see it to be within release. All we have to do is let go. See clearly. This surrender is the hardest work of all, and it is absolutely effortless.

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Good luck. 😉 Travel light. Send me love as I journey. 🙂 I will try to get some photos and travel posts up here as I am able to throughout my South American jaunt. As ever, I don’t know when I’ll be back, so I won’t pretend, though I don’t plan on more than a couple of months.

Persistence

Sometimes when I sit down to write, I don’t want to. Now is one of those times. But I am trying, all the same. I am sitting here patiently, typing words, just to see what happens. I am hoping that I might soon feel like continuing. The weakest hint of momentum may just be enough to see me stick with it a while and churn a little something out. But developing the discipline to sit down when I am not inspired is not easy. It takes a lot of persistence. There are more than a few old roadblocks to break through.

I used to consider myself a promising young writer, though I mostly sat around waiting for the spark of inspiration to strike me. Occasionally a whimsical bit of verse would trickle forth, before falling prey to laziness – my base state for quite some time. I could work on something with a brief initial burst of energy, sometimes even following up with a weak second effort, but so many fine ideas fell flat simply because I could not seem to sustain any interest or discipline. I was ideologically opposed to the structure of discipline; I rebelled against its ‘necessity’. I hosted various vague and untested notions floating about my skull claiming that art should not require effort. I had grown wary of hard work, certainly not due to overexposure. But now I see the great value of structure and discipline in allowing our creativity a channel through which to flow. Seeing projects beyond their birth calls for this kind of commitment and perseverance.

I can’t yet speak from any great track-record of outward accomplishments or publications, as my writing regimen is still quite young, but I can feel the fruit of this routine ripening within me. (I think it’s going to be tasty.) Since the beginning of August, I have been rising at 5 AM every day (with rare exceptions), and after an hour of yoga and meditation (or exercise and prayer, depending who I am talking to – as if there were any difference beyond labels), I sit down at my eastward facing desk and write for three solid hours. Solid may be too firm a word. Solid is the ideal. At the outset, I would sometimes sneak away to play the odd song on the guitar. That is pretty rare now. I often look out the window and marvel at the sunrise playing on the underside of clouds. I close my eyes and breathe a lot. But staying in the seat is the goal. From 6 til 9. (Bathroom breaks are always permitted.) Over time, it has become easier to stick it out. This kind of discipline was never my strong suit, but I have found patience to be a huge ally in the battle of building will power. I can look to my simple meditation practice for developing these seeds of patience. 

I have only been an ‘active’ meditator for about two years now (admittedly, on the surface it looks pretty passive – I just sit there), but the growth I have experienced is astonishing. We are all capable of developing powerful faculties we never thought possible. The trick is doing it for its own sake. As soon as you feel some pressure or obligation, the spark is often lost. Setting goals is still vital, of course, but being able to work without attachment to firm outcomes allows us to discover that the worth of the work is the work itself. This is a most beautiful revelation. We can use incentives and other tools, as we wish, but I believe it is the simple creative release of self-expression in whatever we do that truly feeds us. There is nothing else we need. That fundamental dose of satisfaction is all we are really after, whether we see it or not.

I sat here from beginning to end – from word one to right now – and despite wanting to get up many times, I stuck it out, and I am glad I did. It may not be all that cohesive – meandering much as I did while writing it, jotting thoughts and jumping back and forth to tend to open threads – but I am glad I kept writing. This is such a simple reward. Discipline when exercised feels good in and of itself. Persistence pays. Keep at it.

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