Yesterday, I met a woman who just had her memoir published. I am always wanting to support writers, so I bought it and began reading it this morning. The author is close to my own age and I marveled at the work she has done. I wondered where she found the time and energy in her mid 70’s. She is also a blogger…more time spent writing. Thoughts about her accomplishment made me feel a bit guilty.
When I started my blog, I made a commitment to post something every day for a year and I succeeded. In the process, I learned that the best way to become a better writer is to write. I also learned that life offers lots of things to write about if one is paying attention. It was during that first year that I began writing the stories that later became my book, The Memorial of Jesus. Seemingly, the process of forcing myself to sit down to write, driven by my commitment, was like priming a pump. This aspect of daily writing is one I didn’t realize until now. I can honestly say that I haven’t written anything of substance in at least a year, probably because I have failed to show up in the first place.
I have already learned this important lesson in other aspects of my life. I have a daily exercise routine and rarely have miss a day. It consists of about 20 minutes of movements and stretches I learned from yoga, exercise classes, and physical therapy, I can’t do all of the moves that i could in my younger days, but I am convinced that the osteoarthritis that now makes itself known in my body would be far worse if not for my morning practice.
The same is true for my meditation practice. When I began, I was still working and managing a house and family and I could not imagine taking time for what seemed like a pretty meaningless activity. Yet those who I most admired in the world were almost all people who had a meditation practice. So, I started. I set a timer for 5 minutes and struggled to silence my thoughts as best I could. Those five minutes seemed an eternity and the volume of thoughts that could march through my mind was amazing. But I kept at it until I reached a point where I was surprised when the chime announced the end of 5 minutes. At some point I was able to move on to 10 minutes. Now I set the timer for 20 minutes and meet with a contemplative body for an hour of meditation each week.
I have applied the same principle to other things. I managed to complete the process of going through old family pictures neither dated nor labeled with names and organize them committing to 1/2 hour per day. It took me months to complete the task. Again, I showed up, set a timer, and often worked far longer once I got into the task. I have gotten organizing “stuff”, sewing projects and seasonal cleaning in the same way.
Whenever I talk to someone wanting to begin a new practice of exercise or meditation or anything, really, I tell them that starting is half the battle. Make the commitment to start, put it on your task list, start small, but start, even if your have to argue with yourself and moan and groan as you get up off the couch.
Okay, so here I am, on the cusp of a new adventure. Self, this is my first day of showing up once again, priming the pump that I hope is connected to well of ideas and inspiration out of which the writer’s ideas flow.