The moment alludes me no more: here, I am.
And within a breath, loneliness can be transformed into solace. I just never stop to take that breath.
Instead, I worry; and I am stuck in the past and the future at once. The past is gone, it happened, but even though I can do nothing to change the past, I feel I must respect it because it’s made me what I am today. Our egos only know this: that the past is rock solid fact, all we have of this life’s unspooling thread. Learn from your mistakes or be damned to repeat them. So try, and we fail, never telling ourselves that we have.
Especially when it comes to really bad mistakes and bad the memories that accompany them. I must respect my life not to repeat these mistakes, and so I vow never to make another mistake ever again. This, of course, is an insane idea. But this is what the past does to us. It bears its teeth and threatens us; and when we ignore it, it sinks its teeth into us and wounds us.
The future is worse. All of my assumptions and expectations are weighed against what I’ve done and what I’m doing now, which is never enough (and it will never, ever be enough. No matter how many of us have published such and such with so and so, no matter how much money or how many fans we have. Desire begets desire.), and so I strive to be somebody instead of to be.
In really terrible moments, both my past mistakes and my future pessimisms comes and sing in harmony to me. They sing of my loneliness and my non-writing or my bad writing or my un-writing, and then of my lack of all the other things that I don’t have compared with other people. In these moments, I panic and worry and grow depressed. And deep down, in weaker moments, I could barely admit that I didn’t like it. Habits cling to our blood and our energies, and no matter how terrible they are for us, we submit to them.
I used to get stuck in those loops, falling down those tunnels of negativity; tunnels I’d bullheadedly pushed through, thinking that there was light somewhere at its end. The fallacy of sunken costs, it’s called: You’ve already wasted this much time and effort on it, you MUST stick with it to the end.
But there is no end. You burrow down to get out of a hole, you must stop and climb out of it, fighting gravity and the double-effort of not seeing the surface. So I’m done, I’m tired of it. It’s not a trick, it’s a lifestyle. It’s not a habit, it’s a process. The key to it is being. It’s getting to my foxhole. It’s making myself a ritual for it. It’s trying my best, every single day. And most importantly, it’s forgetting the past and future as hurdles to get over and let them go.
Now that’s not to say that the past and the future will be done with me. Oh no! They’ll come up with more ways to try and unhinge me from my presence, to knock me off balance, while all the while singing. They will try and keep me from my writing and my life. But it’s like Krishna Das says, you have to let go, a million times a minute.
This is about striving to clutch the moment. Where is the moment, right now? Where is being?
For us writers, it’s writing.
Writing, like all types of meditation, brings you from the past and the future and into the moment. The moment may be what is out your window or it may be that make-believe land in your head, but either way, when you are in the zone, you are eternal and timeless. You are being when you are writing. You know those times when the hours peel away so quick? When you look up and realize that you’d written for three hours and it seemed like three minutes? That’s called flow, and when you tap into those moments, you are.
You break barriers of time and space, you break past and present. This is not religion nor spirituality, but it kind of is. This is neurology and psychology, but it kind of isn’t. When you’re really writing—really, really, REALLY writing, when you’re not concerned about ANY of the million distractions that have to do with putting a book out into the world—you become, and that becoming is your best self. It’s moments like these that got you into becoming a writer in the first place. It’s why we keep doubting ourselves when we can’t even make it to the computer. It’s why we get depressed when failure after failure piles up. It’s why we sometimes stop talking about our writing so that our friends and family forget we even started a novel. That being is so precious and so rare and so powerful, we’ll dedicate a whole life to it. Then it’s not about anything but you and your Muse or God or whoever it is you pray to.
I crack my knuckles and type. All morning, I create a patchwork of absurdity, interwoven with half-familiar words and phrases, descriptions, lines of dialogue, and symbols. Some are cliched and bland, some are fiercely odd, some are vacant and sad, some are nostalgic, some are new to my eyes, some are nasty and horrible. There is no story here. But it could be. And within a moment, gibberish can be transformed into literature. This is the playground of the mind; this is creativity. Even though I am traveling all over my mind and spirit when I write, I am still and quiet, here, in the moment. I am present, right here.
Before you begin to think that this is a prescription for becoming a hermit, you forget that the writing life is also within life. What is your past but a series of stories we tell each other, good or bad? What is the future but the creation of characters and actions and conflict?
When we decide to change an aspect of our lives for the better, we can call it editing. These kinds of literary terms are beginning to be used more frequently by non-literary people everywhere, from business to government to other arts. The reason is because we’re coming to a point in our evolution where we can take control of our lives instead of being controlled by them. YOU can take control of your life.
Read up on it, take a class, or just think about it, and you’ll see that we have more opportunity for fulfillment and bliss than of all other generations before us. Yes, there will be problems and hurdles; all new generations have those to succumb. And as a writer, even more so. The rules are changing and so is the business. The more important thing we must do is in those moments of being, moments avoiding the negative memories of our past and the unknown terror of our future, we must engage with each other creatively.
Then the power is in our hands, then the story is being told by ourselves instead of our habits or prejudices and memories and reactions. The lessons we learn in writing are not only to be used within the confines of a computer screen or the pages of a book but are the lessons for the rest of our lives.
I stop for the day. I breathe. I am happy but also nervous as I re-enter the world.
Meditation isn’t about sitting cross-legged and taking a break from life. True meditation is about quieting your mind and simply being. Make writing your meditation, and then practice that meditation with you wherever you go IRL—In Real Life.
Create and Complete