Thursday, July 15, 2010

Practicing Stillness

After making my schedule hectic in the spring through a series of choices that, mostly, I would make again, I’m practicing being still and quiet. I still have a long list of things to do, but along with setting times for working, I’m trying to spend some time just being still, without any structure, urgent goals or imperatives. The purpose is not only to stop the frenetic activity that characterized my spring semester, but to get the brain chatter to settle down a bit, too. I like to be busy and productive and have been incredibly fortunate to find work that is enjoyable at which I can succeed, but I do have a tendency to go overboard sometimes. Spring semester was one of those times. Aside from doing a whole raft of things I cared about--and that I’m still pleased I did--all that activity did provide cover to avoid facing the major change underway in my life. The stillness is a way to let everything integrate and sink in a bit. It’s a work in progress, as this is definitely not my strong suit. Hence the practice.

As for the book, I’m a hopelessly linear writer, beginning at the beginning (every time) and writing until the end, so the fact that the portion of the book that’s drafted (about half) needs to be restructured is a complication. The most efficient path would be to concentrate on writing the un-done sections first and editing it all together later, but I seem not to be able to pull that off; without understanding how it begins or how it all hangs together, I’ve been stymied.

Several days of practicing stillness, though, seem to be paying off, and ideas are finally beginning to emerge. Part of the problem is that the purpose and audience of the book have shifted since the project started, and so much of what’s written is tailored to the old vision of the book, not the new one. There’s lots to say, and the issue for me is to find the right frame and figure out what the overall question is the book is trying to answer.

Meanwhile, in the stillness, I’ve been appreciating all the truly wonderful things about my life, which of course, always begin with and center around knowing Michael. On top of that central, abiding happiness, the colors here feed my soul, and we have glorious blooms in the yard and on the terrace. In the sunshine here and in the quiet, good things are happening for me. Soon enough, I’m going to have to reinvent myself--again--for the next stage of my life, and figure out what comes next. I’m not going to worry about that until another later, after I practice stillness some more, and after this book either emerges, or doesn’t. Happy mid-summer to all.

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