Becoming Buddhist

Attempting to Live a More Mindful Life

The Ordinary Shape of Things

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I love this blog. It’s so therapeutic for me, the anonymity, the format, the project itself. Though I’d had ideas that the shape of it would be purposefully linear, structured by yoga poses or sutras, instead it’s been much more like real life: random. I’ve come to accept this (look at me, removing attachments). In fact, since starting the mindfulness project two months ago, I’ve come to accept a lot of things. I seem to be handling disappointment, dukkha, and change better.

To wit: I gave myself a little pep talk in the car while driving to pick up my son from school yesterday, and I actually believed it. The pep talk went like this: “Just do the work, S. Do the work and something good will come of it.” The backstory to this pep talk is that I had just turned my attention back to my book, the one I hope to work tirelessly on this month, after a fall largely spent avoiding it for reasons logistical (I was working too much) and subconscious (I was avoiding it). The book inspires the following feelings in me:

  • I am intensely, joyously proud of it.
  • I suspect it might truly suck.
  • I think it is likely self-indulgent.
  • I am quite sure it will never get published.
  • I am sometimes hopeful that actually, maybe it will.

And so, as you can imagine, when I work on it–or even think about it too long–I get completely overwhelmed. Reminding myself to just take it bird by bird, as Anne Lamott might say, is a huge help.

What I hope is that mindfulness will enable me to just see the book clearly, for what it is. I opened this morning a query email I’d sent to an agent last year. I realized the way I talked about the book made it sound precious and sentimental. Actually, much like this blog, it’s messy, sometimes raw. I think two forces fight in my brain: “polished” or “good” must mean “perfect.” And “raw” means unpolished, unprofessional, and, above all, scary. I think I will have better luck with the project once I embrace its raw, imperfect, perfect beauty and decide how I want to portray it to the outside world.

For now, though, I am thinking about the ordinary shape of things, a phrase that came to me in the middle of the night, beautifully.

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Author: becomingbuddhist

I am a writer, teacher, and mother living in Northern California. Recently I decided to try an experiment in living more mindfully. This blog is my testimonial.

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