Right this moment, I’m feeling grateful for having successfully completed a difficult semester. I’m also brimming with life lessons learned from Eckhart Tolle’s lectures on A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. If you’ve ever wondered “Am I supposed to be a writer?” “What should I write?” “How should I bring my work into the world?” the book (and the free lecture series) might answer some of your questions. It did for me.
At the ripe age of 53, I finally see the priceless value of fully engaging in the present moment, every moment. The rewards of this ongoing practice is a writing life (and it works in every aspect of life, not just writing!) free of worry, full of contentment, with many bursts of pure joy. I have noticed (you have to train yourself to keep noticing moment by moment) that when I’m sad, worried, or stressed it is because I have strayed from the present moment and am either worrying about or wanting something in the future (like a book contract) or regretting something from the past (so many missed opportunities!). Bringing myself back to the now, just with the breath and taking a few seconds to feel the energy of life flowing through me, I reconnect to the present moment, where all creativity is born.
Ten weeks ago, I didn’t understand that if I cannot bring acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm to whatever is happening in the present moment, then I need to stop and think about why. If I repeatedly cannot find acceptance in a current life situation, that’s a signal to change. If I hate the book I’m working on, or the article idea I’m pitching, I need to stop and try something else. Something that rises from within me, not from the essay in “Writer’s Digest” about the next new trend.
Bringing acceptance to all situations, not just wriitng, gets easier with practice. Many writers need to work at another job to pay bills. Accepting that you might need to work at something other than your life’s passion, at least until the kids finish college, is tough. If my day job confronts me with a student who is very, very, unhappy with her grade, I can accept that. I used to get so upset by negative student actions. I’d take on their unhappiness like a sponge, fume at the lack of alert attention in the classroom, feel a nasty urge to kick the sleeping kid in the third row. Now I accept students as they are and don’t take any of it personally. Heck, I saw people nodding off at the Dalai Lama’s lecture!
As much as acceptance has been a blessing, I’d really rather be in a state of enjoyment or enthusiasm, and I know from experience that writing takes me there. According to Tolle, all creativity arises from being in the present moment in either a state of acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm. That’s where I want to spend my summer, stopping in my garden for a season, remembering who I am and why I am here on the planet.
Reader, I need a nice long rest. My life’s purpose, I have learned, is probably not to teach the research paper citation method recommended by the Modern Language Association. My life’s purpose is to bring forth all that is in me, waiting to be born into the world of form. For me, this form often takes the shape of writing. I sort of already knew that..what Tolle did for me was deepen my belief in my writing self and show me a way to get more out of my writing practice.