Sep 18, 2015

Writing mindfully

Repeatedly I say (to anyone who is within range and shows the smallest amount of interest) "I love to write."

Anyone who survives that might then hear me continue to my frustration: "And I don't write. And I don't know why. And I am frustrated."

And if they stick around they'll be subjected to a much longer rant on the unhappiness borne out of my strong desire to write and endless frustration because something, I know not what, gets in the way of writing.


Occasionally I'll come up with a fix: a solution to the problem of writing. Sometimes nothing comes of the solution. Sometimes it leads to a burst of writing. Eventually the burst ends and frustration sets in.

This might be one of those short-lived fixes. Or it might be different. We'll have to see.

The change comes from a mindfulness practice I'm working on: first becoming aware of myself, and then looking for the "self" of which I am aware.  When I look for the self I find that it disappears. According to generations of teachers of Buddhist-style meditation, that is because the self is an illusion. You'll find that out, they say, if you meditate long enough.

But looking for the self, rather than just meditating is a shortcut that I learned after reading Sam Harris' book "Waking Up." The the difference between a reality and an illusion, Harris says, is this: look at something carefully. If you see more detail, it's probably real. If it vanishes or if it turns into something else, it's probably an illusion.

So me: I look inward for the self, and I find there's nothing there. I'm looking outward instead. No self. Only the present moment. Not even "me" in the present moment.

Just the present moment.

Self appears to be an illusion.

Today I did not simply look for "the self that was aware of itself," but for "the self that wants to write and is frustrated."

And I discovered that there was nothing there.

Nothing wants to write.

Nothing is frustrated that it isn't writing.

There was nothing but the then-present moment.

How can that be any good? If my goal is to write, and the "me" that has that goal disappears taking both its frustration at not writing and its desire to write with it, what then? How can I get myself to write if there's no me that wants to write and no me to be frustrated when it doesn't?


How can I write when experience has taught me that one of the few ways I can get myself to write is by increasing the frustration that I feel when I don't write? I need to increase my frustration until it is greater than whatever pain I might anticipate that I'd feel if I did write. Then I'll write.

How can I write if I'm not feeling negative feelings that are greater than the negative feelings that stand in the path of writing?

I mean, really!

The answer is: I don't know, but here I am. I've looked for "the part of me that I wants to write." I found nothing. And I'm writing.

Now, in this moment, there's no me that who wants to write.

There's no me that is upset about not writing.

There's nothing but the present moment--and the writing that is in that moment.

I am gone, and all that's left is the writing.