Writing lows

HimalayasIt is said that the most common first sentence of a blog is“I haven’t posted anything in a while…” Seeing as I hate to be common, and have long given up avoiding the label“proud,” let me phrase a different introduction:

“It has been a couple of days…”

I should admit that keeping a diary was never one of my strong points. I tried several times as a child, and like every other sincerely made New Year’s resolution sincerely failed, running out of enthusiasm and inspiration within several pages, in all honesty lacking anything to say. Writing in a diary was no more cure for childhood boredom than the parental suggestion“Well you could tidy your room…”

Which makes this uncommon gap between posts better than it may read. Yes, I probably am my harshest critic, reality seldom intruding upon the setting of impossibly high standards, and by any other’s standards a five day gap between posts is really not so bad. I do have a life off-line—although friends may beg to differ—and building a website, delivering phone books (it’s a long story, but more than my fingers did the walking), instructing a webmaster friend on the finer points of DNS redirection and remote file synchronisation (at length, several times), working on a corporate video, and starting but not finishing several articles for publication takes no small amount of time, and perhaps more relevantly, not always unlimited creative energy.

And so, in something of a dry spell, I have done my best not to be alarmed, frustrated or anxious. Writers block is normal, even unavoidable for most and self, and not helped one single period by losing poise along with pen.

Going back to my roots, I meditated on occasion, a simple act whose positive benefits even a regular practitioner can overlook. It is human nature to seek greener grass; how often do I forget that the limitless fields of meditation are the greenest of all? Caught up at times in the energy, flow and excitement of writing, I am reminded again, and again, that silence is the most powerful source of words.

The miracle
is not to fly in the air,
or to walk on the water:
but to walk on the earth.

Chinese proverb

As a writer craves quality and brilliance, and always productivity, so people who practise meditation expect experiences, heights of bliss or vistas of consciousness, as in the satori or flashes of enlightenment of the Zen tradition. In meditation, as in writing, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that, like climbing a mountain, there are countless steps, highs and lows on the way to the summit or the end of the page. Meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy once compared enlightenment, the ultimate goal of meditation, as akin to climbing Mt. Everest—only a thousand times over. The final sentence in meditation, or writing, is that the journey is high, hard and long.

What am I saying exactly? Like writing, meditation is sheer hard work and sweet reward, and the transformation of human nature from less perfect to more perfect may seem near impossible at first; conquering jealousy, insecurity, fear and anger as difficult as straightening the proverbial tail of a dog.

Yet peak experiences in meditation are the result of lowly hard work. There is no short-cut or substitute for such, and as in the Chinese proverb, walking on the earth as a conscious human being is the true miracle.

It is the same in writing it seems. Great works come from dry spells and inspiration, and weathering them, even learning from them is a part of writing as well. Between high and low, the middle path of ordinary and unremarkable must be weathered and walked, one’s work, and art, furthered here on earth, not in heaven or hell.

As author William S. Burroughs once confessed,

“As a child, I had given up on writing, perhaps unable to face what every writer must: all the bad writing he will have to do before he does any good writing.”

Bear with me as I try to do some good writing…

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