Today’s meditation focus was why do I do this? Really. Why sit? Why watch my breath? Why let noises come & go, feelings rise and fall, in rhythm (if I’m lucky!) with my breath? Why on earth would anyone take minutes from a hectic schedule (even in retirement!) and do this??
It’s a great question. And one I don’t think about frequently, unfortunately. What is there about meditation that is so important to American Buddhists? Because it’s not so much to the Buddhists I grew up with in Việt Nam and Thailand, at least not among ordinary folks like me.
So why do it?
It’s like writing, actually — and today’s the day (National Day on Writing celebration, since it actually fell on Sunday) many of us are considering the writing corollary to this question: why write?
I do each for very similar reasons, the impetus for this blog, in fact. I meditate to be more loving, more open to the people I love and the people I can’t stand. That doesn’t go away just because you’d like it to, irritation with and dislike of folks. Nor does wanting to tell people you love how you think they should live their lives :). Think: mothers…
I write to process these feelings. For me, it’s a form of meditation. A way to explore how I can look beneath/beyond my angry attached mind and be … well, better. Larger of heart. Calmer of mind.
That’s why this little story from The Story People spoke to me. Because it’s SO true! I’m meditating daily, again (well, except for this crazy past weekend!), and now I find myself obsessing over THAT!
Sheesh. The mind is a seriously odd thing, isn’t it? But I guess it’s better to obsess over my writing and meditation practice than rant about politics. You might try it: take a couple of deep breaths, and just sit. Listen to the sounds of where you are. Feel the rise & fall of your breath. Face it: it’s a lot simpler than writing. Although you certainly can do that too….
The NDW’s theme is ‘write2connect,’ as I mentioned yesterday. And all day today, that’s what I did: connect. With writers, wanna-be writers, student writers, apprentice writers, and the readers who love us. Because what you may not know about writers is that despite the solitary nature of the art, we need communities.
That’s what Nimrod does beautifully. Last night was a paean to Nimrod’s editor of 47 years, Fran Ringold. Today was a testament to the Nimrod family she has nurtured, and to her lasting legacy.
My husband asked me how it went, after I returned — exhausted! — from a day w/ writers. ‘Great!‘ I answered. It always is. Because in addition to the expected (nationally recognised poets, non-fiction writers, short story authors, & novelists), there is the lasting affection the Nimrod family have for each other. As one of editorial board members (of longer than 35 years!) said, she’ll be back next year just for the hugs
Writing is a lonely business, all too often. But not at the Nimrod weekend. Everyone from the high school slam poet to the 90-year-old grandmother doing her memoir fits in (and this weekend we had both). One of the winners of the Nimrod Awards was a 22-year-old poet; the other winning poet was 74. That’s not unusual for us.
So as I gear up for National Day on Writing, I’m grateful for my writing family, Nimrod. And for my other writing family, the National Writing Project, which taught me about the National Day on Writing. Because at my house, EVERY day is writing day. It’s good to fit in with ‘normal’ people (e.g., non-writers) at least once a year.
It’s one of my favourites because even when I was very young, I loved older people. My very best friends were my old ladies: my grandmothers, my great-aunts, the old ladies we called Grandma who were no kin at all. But Grandma Shanks & Grandma Pietzel & Grandma Whisenhunt (only 3 of several) were part of my family. With stories as wonderful as their home cooking.
I can live, I think sometimes, on stories. On poetry and song lyrics and music w/ words and the lightening quick detonation of a haiku or tanka. They feed me in ways only birds and light can, otherwise.
So to be going to the Nimrod Weekend today is HUGE! Tonight I get to sit with more than 100 readers & writers, listening to poets & fiction writers read. I get to catch up with some of my dearest friends, and the people who know a side of me I don’t often share with strangers: geeky writer chick. And tomorrow a WHOLE DAY of the same!
Because I’m NUTS about writing: learning about it, talking about it, teaching it, doing it. I can talk poetics and prosody until you fall out of your chair snoring. Or the nuances of line breaks. And don’t forget about things like voice, and movement, and lyric and to capitalise or not to capitalise and…Hopeless, I know. 🙂
But our passions are what make our hearts our own. What we love is like a mirror showing who we are. Me? I’m a writer. Writing has been a life sustainer for me for many years, always an integral element of who I am. And Nimrod has been there for me since I was 18, sitting as a young poet writing sonnets in Nimrod Senior Editor Fran Ringold’s poetry class.
So to have Nimrod Weekend as part of the weekend ramp-up to National Day of Writing is beyond cool. And since this year’s Nimrod theme is “Hunger & Thirst: Fulfilling Desire,” the Day of Writing theme “write2connect” is a perfect sequel.
This weekend, I’ll be feeding my writing hungers & thirsts. Drinking & eating my way through line after line of poetry & prose. All so that I can better connect. With the world of readers, with my own inner world, with beginner’s heart. How great is that?
Sunday is one of my favourite days at any time — it’s the day when, if you’re working as a teacher, you’re (ideally!) caught up with your grading. Your household chores are sorta/kinda done. You can relax. Maybe. 🙂
But this coming Sunday I’m already getting ready for. It’s the National Day on Writing, sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Writing Centers Association, among other organisations.
This year’s theme is a GREAT one for a blogger: write2connect. It’s what all writers do, of course, but it’s imperative for those of us who blog that we remember you guys — our readers. Even if we never ‘meet’ you, you’re real. And the Buddhist in me knows that we’re connected whether I know it or not — everything’s connected, as is everyone — but it’s not something I always remember…
Except when I blog, and I find myself wondering who will read this? Who will care? And does it even make sense? The same questions students (of all ages) ask in a workshop. When I tell them we (writers) never stop asking that question, they look grim. Somehow, I think they are always hoping for some other answer.
But I do write to connect. Hence my overly active FB account. My Twitter feed. My emails & cards & notes to friends & family. All an effort to connect, to strengthen the twinings that bind.
So for the next few days that’s the topic. Tune out, if you don’t want to hear a LOT about writing. But then again, you might want to stick around. Writing isn’t about grades, you know — it’s about connection. And passion. And learning about yourself. Actually? It’s about everything.