A Good Practice


I’ll be teaching a Writing As a Spiritual Practice workshop a couple time this March. I love the class, but if you had told me I’d be teaching such a thing 30 years ago I’d have believed you had mistaken me for someone else. I was not a fan of the word “spiritual” then, and I still have a little trouble with it now.

My problem when I was younger was that “spirits” were from somewhere else, beings that visited us from the Great Beyond. While I liked the idea of spirits and ghosts and even angels, and while I was also agnostic about what happened to me after I died, I knew for sure that I lived in this world and not the one from which the spirits did or didn’t travel. This is where I bought the groceries and took the bus, where I suffered and rejoiced, where I succeeded and failed. Spirituality seemed like just another a kind of escapism. You can’t escape this, I thought.

Of course, in those days I was always trying to escape, drifting in fantasy, dreaming of a time when the nagging, nameless struggle and doubt would finally end, answered at last through accumulated success. My happiness and wellbeing would be constructed, built from publishing contracts, good reviews, and a flush bank account. Freedom. The unfree are always trying to escape, aware as they are that something better exists beyond their cell.

To be an artist, you must embrace your inherent freedom. All the while I felt unfree, I sat day after day before a blank page and asked, “What’s the story I want to tell?” The page has no bias or boundaries; it waits for any answer. Whatever story I tell there grows from a garden only I can visit, one that cannot be found on any map, nor named by anyone but me.

And when that story is told, when what was within me takes its form upon the page, is made real in the world I’ve called real, I am left to wonder where my wellbeing can and can’t be found. The written story was a result of my happiness, not its source. Indeed, once told, I am already headed back to from whence it came, back to the garden beyond this world, back where I can practice living as free as a I was born.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual coaching and group workshops.