I will someday learn to trust the creative process. That might mean that I might come to trust that there is a creative force which my ego cannot control but which stands at the ready to swoop in and work with me if I manage to quiet my ego enough to let it happen. Because the ego is the thing that fears. Ram Dass suggested in an interview in the New York Times Magazine that it is only the ego that fears death, the soul lives forever. Likewise, the ego wants the fruits of creativity, it wants to take credit after the book is published, the performance is over, the film is wrapped, but to take a step back and let another entity possess one long enough to actually create… well, that is not at all something the ego likes to do. but to be creative, one must let go of control. One must let go of control on a regular basis. One must practice letting go of control. Just like spiritual growth requires the regular practice of asking the ego to step aside, creativity needs room to work. And our egos always take up too much room. But here is a promise to the ego: if you step aside on a regular basis to allow the spirit some space, you’ll get to take some of the credit for allowing something beautiful and transcendent to happen.
I find that reading articles online is both a blessing and a curse. I learn so much from the things I read online, about the world, about my craft, and about myself, but I often feel I am taking in information too quickly to process it all. It feels like taking a sip from a firehose. I want to be more mindful about how I consume information. I want to be able to take the time. Actually I am able to take the time to digest what I read before moving on to the next piece of mental candy. I must allow myself time to digest. And I digest by writing. I love reading articles on Medium.com because it allows me, encourages me to not only read great writing but to respond directly to the author of the piece in coherent thoughts. It creates connection and allows me to reflect meaningfully on what I gained from the exercise of reading someone’s work. Now to exercise this discipline of reflection when I read pieces where I do not have the encouragement nor the opportunity to speak directly to the author and tell them what I learned.
I have a spirituality that flourishes in the context of motion. Not only does my body love tai chi, my soul does too, as evidenced by the feeling I have that my ego manages to take a backset while I am learning something totally new, something about which I am totally ignorant. But there are other ways that motion informs my spirituality. I used to have a walking meditation practice that I really enjoyed and really helped me feel grounded and centered. And I find that typing on a keyboard is also a meditative activity, even though the only motion is my fingers and, maybe, my wrists. There is a rhythm to all of my moving activities, and I think it is rhythm that allows my ego to step aside and let my soul feel its way into presence, consciousness, growth. I love when I get into a rhythm of typing. It especially helps if there is piano music in the background. Or harpsichord. I get to imagine I am playing an instrument as I type along to the motion of the fingers of the performer I’m listening to. And it takes me somewhere. Somewhere ecstatic.
OK. I’ve officially started the day. Not when I got up. Not when I had breakfast. Not even when I powered up the computer. The day started when I set my timer for twenty minutes which was my signal to start keeping track of what I was doing. And to start typing. I don’t know why my timer is so good for me that way. I have frittered away whole days where I had nothing to do—or, at least, nothing scheduled—except work when I have ended up doing nothing. But I have found that if I set my timer for twenty-minute increments, I can get instantly focused and get a lot done. So, what’s the take-home lesson from that? I need to be mindful about when I start my timer. It’s also usually around this time, 11:47, that I “wake up” and start doing stuff. Should I just take this as information that this is when I get started every day? Or can I “hack” my brain into starting earlier if I set my timer earlier? Experimentation will tell. I can try tomorrow setting my timer early, before I have to leave for work, and see what happens.
After a long period of not posting to my blog or Medium.com, I was inspired to write again by stumbling across a website called 200 Words a Day. I actually would have preferred stumbling across a website called “50 Words a Day,” but I’ll take inspiration where I find it.
Much like Medium, the site makes it easy to write two hundred words online. There is a counter which tells you how many more words you have to go to hit two hundred, and then one has the option of posting whatever one has written. Here is what I wrote:
200 Words, God willing
How hard could it be to write 200 words a day? I want to say, “It depends upon the day” but I’d like an answer that is more concrete and less whimsical than that. Part of writing two hundred words a day is to set the bar so low that it would be just as easy to do the thing as to not do it. Perhaps that’s not possible. What is possible is to focus on the moment, to focus on today, to focus on the here and now. I am writing now, and that is enough. Perhaps I will write tomorrow. I hope I will write tomorrow, but I don’t even know if God wills that I be alive this time tomorrow. There are certain promises we make that have to be conditional. This is why I like to append the phrase, “God willing,” or even, “Insha’Allah” so as to not tempt fate with the hubris that I know what is going to happen five minutes from now, let alone tomorrow. Still, two hundred words a day is a noble goal. It shouldn’t take too much effort to achieve. I think, if I can get myself to the website on a daily basis, the only problem I will have is getting myself to stop.
Jon Carl Lewis, first posted at 200 Words a Day on Thursday, 05 September 2019.
Not a bad start.
The site keeps track of how many days you write, which I imagine will be good inspiration and motivation to keep going. Also, there is a weekly writing prompt. I wish there were a daily writing prompt, but if I can’t think of anything to write, I have purchased a stack of cards, the Wordsmith Deck from BestSelf.co. It contains one hundred writing prompts, one to a card to get the juices flowing on those days when nothing comes to mind.
Wish me luck! I think this is going to be a fun adventure. Should you find yourself experimenting with either of these tools, post your experience in the comments and let’s compare notes.