A Writer's Wish (written 2011)
I wonder about the place where writing and meditation meet. These are two of the overlapping circles in the Venn diagram that represents my life.
What is inspiration, the muse that moves creativity? Is an artist's mind blank, ready to grasp an image but with no image pre-formed? What does this mean for a writer? When I sit and stare at the flickering prompt on my computer screen and no words come, I'm blank alright. And sometimes a despair hits me that I have nothing to say. Yet, it's only like the fragile skin on water and when I break through it's into the cool rush of all the things I want to say. The stories I want to write that will somehow help others struggling with life. Because we mostly forget the universality of that struggle.
We grasp onto a fairytale: the world as fair and just and kind, a place where permanent happiness is a possibility. I know my mother wanted us to believe this. Perhaps every parent wants their children to believe this. Yet, from the perspective of years now, I imagine how she must have suffered during any natural family conflicts, for the loss of her babies as we grew and left home, and during Dad's final year when there was no way she could intervene or change what he went through. My mother was not unique. Many good people are confounded by the reality of the world, and the suffering they see, the suffering they experience, because they do not want to believe in it. They do not want to accept it; they want it to be an anomaly, an abberation somehow. Yet, believing the universe is targeting “me” or some other undeserving soul with pain and disappointment that “shouldn't” happen, triggers emotional swings and anger.
The web of causality in this world of impermanence is such that all of us suffer. If nothing else, we will age and sicken and die. And along the way all of us, I believe, suffer despair, disappointments, anxiety, loss. The stories I want to write would make the universality of this clear, reaching across the illusive divisions, dispersing the fog that makes us believe, mistakenly, we are solitary, solid and alone.
What story then? I raise my pen and wait. What I find is how difficult it is not to plan, to think and choose and when I do this I go only a little way...an image, a line and then I hit a wall. I need to make myself empty of planniing and choosing for the process to be possible.
Natalie Goldberg teaches not to edit. To just write the chatter down and trust that somewhere we will break through to what is real – the lightning and thunder, she calls it. I've seen this happen. Reading pages and pages of trivia in my journals and then a moment, something, that shines. Sometimes so brief. A moth burning bright in the flame and then gone. Sometimes it flows on. I'm greedy and want to be able to dip into that flow on demand.
Where the circles of a Venn Diagram intersect, there is a shaded place. The insights meditation brings, the stories I want to tell. The work of writing is plunging into this dark and taking a chance. Trying to illuminate and to share.