I came across an old journal this weekend, and among the eye-opening to-do list for 2003 (my desires tend to have more substantial longevity than I would have imagined given my restless & dilettante soul) were:
"write a consistent (~3x/week) blog"
"live my life as continually unfolding creative expression."
I abandoned the 2003 blog somewhere in the vicinity of the Duomo in Milan. It's pretty hard to be lured behind a computer in Italia. I cannot put the blame entirely upon the Italians for infecting with me (ha, it's always mutual influence) with la dolce far niente ("the sweetness of doing nothing"). There was already something beckoning toward that simplicity.
So when I restarted a blog on February 6, 2004, I did it with a Zen sensibility: I'd just take one day at a time, and I'd show up to write something, hopefully that something was fresh and immediate. I'd let go of past posts and not concern myself with future posts. This. Just this post.
Even after three years of blogging I still have to be reminded by other bloggers that this is an art form in its own right. I started this, my second uptake at blogging, to prepare for and chronicle a journey across the world to the creative centers of the world for a future magnum opus, you know that masterpiece book out there yonder over the horizon.
A new reader writes privately in response to "Higher Purpose - Now or Later?": "My own thinking on this topic has very recently shifted... just last week, I decided to quit waiting for the "right conditions" and the "big audience" for my higher purpose efforts. " And voila! she took the next most obvious step.
Funny, last night at the homey Chinese dumpling nook in my neighborhood, my fortune cookie read: "You create your own stage. The audience is waiting." I wasn't going to share that because it sounded arrogant at first glance. But it's not something you grasp at first glance.
Oh, how many times have I heard (have you heard?): A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step? I suppose if I learned anything about running 50-mile trail races it's that you don't think about the finish line during the race. It's one foot in front of another, and if I have an aim at all it's too get to the M&Ms and bananas (yes, they do have M&Ms at ultramarathons) at the next aid station.
As I've said in my about page, instead of going to Iran, and Israel, and Ireland, and India and other creatively juicy locales for a book, the blog took me on a journey. Over time it was not a means to an end (maybe a book deal?!), it was its own reward for its own sake.
Today I can say I have blogged on average 3 times a week over the last 3 years. Who shall know when the adventure ends? And when anyhow is anything truly done?
"To finish a work? To finish a picture? What nonsense! To finish it means to be through with it, to kill it, to rid it of its soul, to give it its final blow the coup de grace for the painter as well as for the picture." - Picasso
There were highs and there were lows in those three years. Yet something had grabbed of hold of me that wanted to keep showing up. On his 10th year anniversary of teaching, my spiritual teacher Adyashanti writes:
"Never did I anticipate or imagine the size and growth of this Sangha [community]. There were some evenings in the early days of my teaching when I was the only one who came. On such evenings I would sit in silence for an hour or so before gathering my things and returning home. Other times two or three people would come, and over time more and more. From the beginning, the numbers were unimportant. I always felt that if I could help just one person to truly wake up, I would feel fortunate. And how very fortunate I have been! - Adyashanti
In her book "Watching the Tree: A Chinese Daughter Reflects on Happiness, Tradition and Spiritual Wisdom", Adeline Yen Mah says that the word for physician in Chinese is yi sheng. In contrast to the prevalent western view of a physician as curer of disease, yi sheng means healer of life. The main problem with the western approach is that one's focus is then on observing and avoiding disease, while the other observes and embraces life.
"Physician, heal thyself," echoes to me with every keystroke I've taken here. Maybe I write about the creative mind or about marketing or about food yet ultimately these strides and stumbles that come out in the form of blog posts are lines in a neverending devotional song to life and a giving over to that surge and force of life and inviting you to join the celebration too.
"The Longs were heirs to one of the greatest fortunes in America. One day Dr. Tony Temple, a physician friend, visited his patient John Long in his home in Florida, where John was recovering from a recent heart attack. Tests done while John was in the hospital had revealed that he also suffered from high cholesterol as well as prostate cancer.
On entering the house, Tony noticed six shabbily dressed Chinese workmen laying butterfly tiles in the backyard. John's wife explained that she was building a Chinese garden and had hired this crew from Suzhou, in the People's Republic of China. Though uneducated, the men were experienced and skillful at laying tiles.
John was sitting up in bed eating lunch. Tony was horrified to see cream of mushroom soup, lamb chops with French fries and apple pie a la mode on his tray. "This meal is full of fat and cholesterol. It's bad for your heart and prostate. You need fresh vegetables and bean curd. Why don't you try the Pritkin diet?" he admonished.
"It's so tasteless! I tried it but I can't eat that stuff. I want to enjoy my food! Eating should be a pleasure, not a duty."
At that moment they became aware of the most delicious aroma of sizzling onions and garlic emanating from the garden. Tony opened the shutters and peered out. Sitting on their haunches around a portable stove, the Chinese workmen were lunching on fresh tomato soup, steamed rice, stir-fried cabbage and a wokful of spicy bean curd sauteed with garlic and chilies. With a shock, Tony and the Longs suddenly realized that six penniless laborers from China were eating healthier and better-tasting food than their billionaire American employer!" - Watching the Tree, by Adeline Yen Mah
images "At the Table" by Oleg Zhivetin: "I show in my paintings what people cannot see in real life. I show individuality, the intelligence, dreams and emotions, that every human being is different; and because of that, they are beautiful." ; AP Photo by Fernando Bustamante from La Tomatina festival in Buñol, Spain.