About writing

Do you know what it is like to burn to write?

BurnYes. I chose a rather graphic image to represent something very close to my heart. Sometimes it truly is that way for me. Synge and burn in a moment of rapture when words swirl around me, eluding my grasp. They ricochet off the page with such fervor that I’m always left with a feeling of utter delusion. Will I be able to get them in time before they fade? Will that moment pass, and will they go scurrying off to a dusty, wordlorn corner? When I do manage to put them down, I feel like a phoenix rising. Reborn. I am then ready for another world and another set of emotions. I feel purged.

I’m sure many of you are talented writers, and sometimes feel how I feel. I teach writing to children and adults, but I yearn to be a better writer. I am hungry to get better.

You might want to call me a word nerd at the end of this post, but writing is to me the way breathing is to any of us. It is natural and unbridled. It’s ebb and flow is like that of the eventide—placid, unruffled and continuous.

Words are sacred and they should be! They hold tremendous power and sway. I tell my students that they are creators of a different kind, and without doubt their heads turn towards me with a quizzical look. “Do not, and I say do not, take words lightly. They are your best friends at the worst of times.” You can pin your heart to your sleeve for the whole world to see when you write from the deep recesses of your heart. You will move someone one way or another. Some will tear up; some will laugh; some will not agree and will send you nasty responses, but in the end, a writer has to be true to his or her voice. I found mine when I was in college.

I wish I had started when I was very young. I feel like I’ve denied myself a life changing experience because I did not start out early. I have a good, good friend and we used to write to each other in our wee days. Plain old pen and paper worked the magic for us. We weren’t introduced to ballpoints yet, and so the romance of inkwells still existed. I’ve still preserved them, and believe you me, those letters still hold their power over me. The richness of language, visualizations, and a touch about the senses still holds me captive.

I haunt various spaces to find writing that moves me. Sometimes they fall off the page like pearls, and sometimes they don’t. And at times when they don’t, I just walk away. Many times we settle for the fake ones and do not make the effort to dig deeper to find the real gems. Stop. Drop. Roll over when you find words that move you.

Writing is work, and good writing is darn hard work. If you read something that felt easy to read, know then that the writer has poured over it for days to make you feel with her. Verbs, adjectives and nouns make beautiful things when stringed together on a tapestry. They light up worlds yet unknown.

So go out and light someone’s world today.

I have a project in mind that I will post about soon. Until then, keep lightnin’…

The Monkey Mind

The title of this post is part of a zen fable. The fable goes like this: A learned brahmin was eager to learn the ways of attaining supernatural powers and wandered long and hard to find a master who would help him journey this path. Then one fine day, his friend told him about a monk in Tibet who could help him. So off he went to find the monk. His journey to find his master was perilous and difficult to say the least. He endured it, nevertheless.

When he found his master, he bowed down and asked for guidance. The humble monk nodded and said this, “The mantra is very simple. Say Buddham Sharanam Gachami, Dharmam Sharanam Gachami, Sangham Sharanam Gachami three times.”

This seemed too simplistic; nevertheless, he sat down to meditate. Just before he began, the monk added, “Do remember a diktat. The mantra will not work if you think of monkeys. So whatever you do, please don’t think of monkeys.” The brahmin smiled at the improbability of such a thing. Why would anyone think of monkeys?

Before long though, he realized how wrong he was. As soon as he closed his eyes, thoughts of monkeys engulfed his consciousness. They roamed everywhere. He could not rid himself off them. He began to lose his mind.

The monk watching his predicament approached him and said, “If you force your mind to travel in a certain direction, it will only travel the other way.”

This fable sums up precisely what I want to say about relaxing my mind. I have worked long and hard to get to a place of absolute nothingness. When I say nothingness, I don’t mean the sagely loftiness of great gurus and dharmatmas. In my world of chaos and craziness, I’ve been able to come to a place where I can finally shut my eyes and in turn shut the world out. Why  is that important?

So many reasons to celebrate this new place I’ve found. I used to and still get perturbed by difficult situations, but now I can remove myself from it instantly and move on. In the past, I would let myself sink deeper and deeper into a hole that would eventually eat me inside out. But now, I can step over it and look ahead. Simple as it may sound, it has bestowed a great deal of power on me.

I would give credit to my prefect at the mission for it. He has helped me stay on course and more specifically, helped me find balance. The clutter in my mind gets distilled and that trickling annoyance I spoke of in “Mind Over Matter” has suddenly vanished. It takes me a few good minutes to travel into that place with so many monkeys dancing around my consciousness, but get there I do. And when I do, the feeling is spectacular. It keeps me charged and alive for the  whole day. I don’t feel fatigued, and my family tells me that I’ve become a dispenser of great cheer. It wasn’t easy journeying to this place. The monkeys are very many still, and they constantly threaten to disrupt the stillness, but when you learn the art of controlling your mind, they cease to exist.

I hear people tell me about how the din constantly surrounds their lives, and my advice to them, ” get out of it.”

I do not for a minute want to preach, but meditation has made such a big difference in my life that I have to share it with anyone I can. It helps you sit with yourself and accept who and what you truly are. We begin to live in the present and I cannot tell you how important that realization is. We either live in our past or pine for an unknown future and forget about the moment we are actually in.

If your day went by in a trance and you failed to live in the present, stop and take stock. You owe it to yourself.