Week 11, by Maria Rodgers O’Rourke (Tracey here: If you’re a writer, I encourage you to check out Maria’s website, the services she offers, and the support you can gain at any step in your writing journey!)
“It’s all a matter of entering what-is and taking heart-notes.” P. 197, “Travel and the Writer’s Mind” section of Drinking from the River of Life.
As I read Mark’s email exchange with Jacqueline, a familiar feeling of jealousy rose in me. Envy of their lives, and the apparent ease that allows them to live such thoughtful days, spontaneously following impulses and whatever appears on their path. Jacqueline says she abandoned her work plan to follow her musings. Mark tells of books-in-progress, and how research for one lead to another, and the beauty of the threads all coming together. All true.
Yet, a cynic arises in my mind to dismiss these insights. It says: These are the musings of people who don’t lead “real lives” of working jobs that demand mental and physical presence that’s far removed from the heart’s work. “Yeah, I’d pay attention like that, too,” something in me mutters, “if I had financial freedom like that.”
And I miss the point, entirely. Resistance disguises itself, again, as righteous judgement. Any fruits of the effort to create are thwarted. What might have been revealed is lost to the inner cynic.
So, I tried a different approach. Taking Mark’s lead, I dismissed the cynic and sat with what-is. Here’s what came up:
I’m scribbling these words as a cardinal bird chirps in the tree outside. Cool autumn air drifts in through the window, opened just enough to allow a song and a bit of breeze to rest with me. My pen scratches the page. The ink flows out of the pen in a steady blue stream. Breathe. The gentle draft touches my hands as they rest on the page. Legs crossed under my lap desk. My body is snug in a sweatshirt, jeans, and favorite sneakers. The chair supports my back like a pillowed nest. The chirps continue. All is well. In this moment, I have all I need. My heart rests and opens. I am here.
The point is: human beings can, by paying attention to their lives, find meaning in them. We don’t have to travel – though a change of scenery helps! – to notice what’s around us. For me, “taking heart-notes” brings me to a centered place – where time is suspended, and all things are possible. This is this fertile ground for creativity.
I have a work-in-progress, a novel. The other day, I opened the file on my computer, and hunkered down, once again, to crank out another 500 words. It felt so exhausting, so harsh, to approach my work that way. And yet, aren’t we conditioned to think it should be hard, and that we have to grind it out? On this day, I stared down the inner bully behind this strategy, and decided I wasn’t going to do it that way, anymore.
Instead, I took my notebook and printed manuscript draft and sat on the floor with them open in front of me. I took a few deep breaths and asked the story and characters to come to me. I felt the threads of the plot float up and rest around me, like sitting in a garden of flowers stretching in the sun. My heart and mind relaxed into the beauty, and relinquished control of the project. It will find its way to the page because it’s already there. Letting it come to me, instead of digging it out, is the true work.
I described the scene to my wise-beyond-her-years daughter, who proclaimed: “Power move, Mom!”
Power, not in the old way of control and conquer, but in a new way – allowing, releasing, growing, and noticing. My new mantra these days is: “Welcome it in, don’t hash it out.”
What struck you about this week’s reading?
Book Club Schedule:
- Week #12 Placeholders through Going With The Stream, Tammi Scott, Nov. 18
- Week #13 <<<BREAK>>> Happy Thanksgiving
- Week #14 Everything We Need through Becoming the Poem, Kim Prendergast, Dec. 2
- Week #15 The Empty Saddle through This Belongs to Everyone, Eva Tsoureka, Dec. 9
- Week #16 FINAL book club round up Zoom, Saturday, December 18, 10am pacific
A link will remain here to week 1 in case anyone wants to review the spearheading guidance. Week 1.