(from Henry Miller on Writing, New Directions via biblioklept)
I hit a wall about 7-8 months ago. Not just as a writer, but in general. It was an extremely disappointing and frustrating period for me. Not because I'd never experienced disappointment before, believe me I had, but because I wasn't prepared for it. It began with my decision to leave Los Angeles. The move back to NYC was a huge transition for me, something I hadn't been willing to admit at the time. I'd thought, "Been there, done that, no biggie. How hard could it be?" But I had a lot riding on it, or thought so at the time, and when things went awry, I sort of fell apart. Which in my case was to just withdraw into the rabbit hole. In retrospect, I must have thought I could easily slip back into my old life as if nothing had changed, that my friends would be standing by to welcome me back into the fold, and that everything would just fall into place as it had many times before. As if somehow I, myself, had not changed but remained the same. Of course, none of it unfolded as I'd imagined.
Six years in LA had changed me, some good, some not so good. A West Coast sensibility had infiltrated my East Coast veneer. I'd lost my edge, my hustle. You could even say, I was stuck on a lackadaisical, sticky fly ribbon. I've been trying to get unstuck since. But it's not easy adjusting your mindset, even if you're used to taking risks. There's a tiny part in all of us that will always resists change, even if it's a positive one. I think part of the problem is too many of us dissect ourselves into sections. One for the past, another for future, and what's left over for the present. It leaves us less than whole. We spend our entire lives trying to bring all the parts of ourselves together when we should be focusing on right now, working with what we have and not what we lost or want from tomorrow.
A few weeks ago, I tagged along with a friend to an introduction to meditation at the Tibet House. So much of what Yuri Dhara discussed resonated with me, the most important of which was that, 'There is only now. The past only brings you pain. The future only fear'. Here I had believed I'd been trying to embrace change when in fact I was being hindered by the past and paralyzed by the uncertainty of the future. But happiness can only be found in the present, not externally, but within ourselves when we align with our life's purpose. What is our life's purpose? Only we know the answer. But first, we must learn to ask ourselves the right questions.
The reason I mention all this, is because I figured out some of my writer's block. And a lot of it had to do with not being present. I kept thinking about the time I'd invested into my craft, what I'd sacrificed, and what if it all came to naught? The more I was sucked into that negative thinking, the more it took over my thoughts. I began to second-guess myself, every word I'd ever written. I found myself editing and re-editing the same first five sentences of my book and it was torture. Day after day, week after week, month after month, until 7 months had slipped by. Then I was tortured by the time wasted; it was a vicious cycle. All I really had to do was show up and work. Even when I felt there was nothing to wring out onto the page. Show up. Work. 'Consciousness follows the path of repetition.' This is something we can all apply to our lives. Show up. Work. Despite our thoughts. We are not our thoughts. Our thoughts become our reality, but that reality is not truth. Awareness is consciousness before thought. Be present.