Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Let's Go, Kid, into the Open Field

There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea. 

--T.S. Eliot


It’s take your daughter to work day.  Didn’t know that?  Well, maybe that's because your daughter didn’t collapse on the floor and refuse to move when it was time to put on her jacket for school.


“I’m too tired.”

Well, shit, kid.  Dad has to go to work.

Only does he have to go to work?

C'mon, kid. Dad has to go to the coffee shop and maybe work on another blog post, a writing effort that that will garner him no income, that will not lead to a book deal, that will not help him sell the movie he’s writing.

You’re only four, kid.  Do you even really need to go to school?  There are experts and judgmental moms the world over who say I leave you there too long as it is. I’m sorry kid.  I’m doing my best.  

Why is it that I feel this need to write?  Why do I feel I need to do this thing I do almost everyday, where I dive into the stream of these words and every once in awhile send them sailing out into the world?

So now you are here, sitting next to me in this cafe, basically watching TV.  Are you rotting your brain?  Is it going to turn to goo and leak out your ears like I often tell you it will?  We won’t be here too long (I tell myself).  It won’t be long before you get hungry or tired or finally get bored of watching Kate and Mim-Mim romp in the purplelicious bubblegum kingdom of Mimaloo.


But for now I sit next to you, your dad. Your forty-year old dad with a back pillow to aid his aging spine.  This broken-down yogi.  This discouraged writer.  This dad who feels like he is failing you day in and day out with his lack of patience, with his insistence on following his own rigid agenda, with his tendency to write about himself in such self-pitying ways.

Wasn't it a victory, though, that we made it here, kid? This morning when you were lying there on the floor, I felt like I was faced with two options: pick you up, jam your arms into your coat, and carry you crying to your car seat, or go off by myself to sit and sulk. 

It wasn’t until it occurred to me that this feeling in my face, this feeling that my face and maybe my entire head and neck might explode atop my shoulders, was trying to tell me something.  And so I did what I’ve been trying to learn how to do.  I let myself really feel it.  I reminded myself that it, like every feeling, was pointing me towards something, a signal, and so I tried to welcome it as a teacher, and it told me that what mattered was not whether I got to spend my day at the cafe reading Karl Rahner, writing another blog post, or working on that short story I’ve been hiding from for the past several days.

What mattered was staying with what was happening at that moment, realizing that I had a sad kid who really didn’t want to go to school and a frustrated dad who wanted to go to work, and a newly crawling baby who was going to fully occupy her grandmother for the day.

"Where are the outlets?"
So what did I do, in between the Scylla and Charybdis of shutting myself in the office and forcing you to go to school? 

I said, "Let’s go to the store."

And you, kid, seeing with your untutored wisdom that this was a new way, the third way, a never-before-imagined possibility, said, “Ok.”

And we went to the store, and we started to have fun at the store, didn’t we?  The field of possibility was open once again.  We were out in that open field beyond the plans and fixed expectations of how the day was going to go.  And as we drove home from the store, a vision that we might come here, to the coffee shop together to do our as-yet-uncreated thing, bloomed in the now free space in my mind.

Maybe you are going to watch too much damn Kate and Mim-Mim today, and maybe later in the day, I’m going to come up against something where I can’t adjust, where I can’t let go, and we are going to have a big blow-up fight.  But for now, at least, we are here together, co-creating our day, trying to stay in the open field, trying to remember that our plans aren’t going to protect us from as much as we think, and that we need to remain ever responsive to the living flux of what is, whatever that may be.



Thanks for stopping by!





Monday, March 6, 2017

Writing Down to the Ground of Being






I just read the first few chapters of Karl Rahner’s* book Encounters with Silence, and it brought me from a place of scattered frustration and confusion to a sort of centered stability in my heart space. Interestingly enough, my experience reading seems to mirror the essays themselves, as in each of the short pieces, which are structured as prayers to God, Rahner's focus seems to shift from a concern with his alienation and insufficiency to a sort of security born of acceptance of his limitations and surrender to the incomprehensibility of the divine mystery.

It's a subtle shift, one of tone, and I'll admit that I might be guilty of projecting on the theologian. But I found something beautiful in the parallel with my reading experience, and as I reflected on it, it struck me that the “free writing” I’ve done throughout my life--whether I’ve thought of it as literary experiment, a way to warm up in preparation for my “professional” writing, or simply as a private journal--is actually an ongoing prayer.

It may seem unlikely, but by diving into the compulsive thoughts running through my mind, channeling them through my hands, and marshalling them into sentences and paragraphs, I’ve always had a fairly reliable way to move from a space of constraint to one of expansive freedom. Indeed, it may not be too strong to say this was the primary thing which initially attracted me to writing, and even before I began to think of myself as a writer, I would use a journal at various times of major upheaval.

When I was younger though, I used to believe that I was actually working out solutions to my various problems, coming up with epiphanies which I would then convert into strategies for changing my life. Why did my girlfriend break up with me? Eureka! I drove her away with my insecurity about our relationship. So all I need to do now is resist any temptation to show her my neediness. Strategy: if I start to call her in tears, I will hang up and punch myself in the face. Of course, these strategies never actually worked--most of the time I’d be lucky (or unlucky) if I even tried them out once.

But what I’ve come to realize is that something happens in the process of writing itself which helps me to transcend rather than solve the the problems and situations I’m describing. Writing in this free, discursive way somehow reveals the fact that any given set of personal problems are always only limited stories that imperfectly describe a tiny portion of my life’s territory. This is not something that comes through an analysis of what's been written, but a change of being that comes through the act. Through writing, I fall into a vaster perspective that often makes any one take on a given life situation seem so narrow as to be untrue or at least irrelevant.

This, of course, is also one of the ways silent meditation works. During the practice of meditation, we engage in the practice of not reacting to compulsive thoughts, letting them go, so that we can be open to the transformative potential of what lies below the surface of these thoughts, and over time, this ability spills over into the rest of our lives. But what I saw clearly today while reading Rahner’s book, both journaling and discursive prayer can actually lead to the same type of experience. By engaging with the flow of our words in an intentional and sincere way for an extended period of time, we touch something healing underneath the poor words themselves, maybe even the primordial word, the Logos of John's gospel or the sacred Om out of which the universe arises.



Could it be that this is one of the reasons in religious education we are first taught discursive prayer and practices like the Rosary? Because the forms help to occupy our thinking faculty while keeping our intention set on communicating something vital, giving us a chance to eventually perceive a deeper, sub-verbal level of discourse with reality that is actually going on all the time? This is what I often experience when I write deeply and freely, and it is not uncommon for the words to fall away altogether as I work, inviting me to let them go in favor of a more profound silence. What would it be like if we could learn to shift our habitual attention from the flashy display of our thoughts, feelings, desires, and aversions to this current of soundless sound? Perhaps this shift what Paul intended when he gives us the impossible charge to pray without ceasing (Thessalonians 5:17).

Not only are these associations helping me to understand some unforeseen potential value of discursive prayer, I can also now understand why journaling is so often recommended as a companion to psychotherapy as well as various forms of spiritual practice. While I was long ago able to discover for myself that free writing or journaling helped to calm my ass down enough to overcome the terror of launching, day after day, into long-term writing projects, as a form of psychotherapy or spiritual practice, I’d always looked down upon it as weak tea.

I was critical because I believed that journaling might cause others to do what I used to do, namely reinforce the erroneous belief that we can transform ourselves through our narrow self wills, that we can work out solutions to life situations as if they were problems on a sheet of math homework, and make us myopically chase the shadows of our discontent rather than engage productively with our deeper fears. And while journaling or free writing or even discursive prayer could in fact do this on one level, it may be that given enough time and practice, we will realize that, as with everything else, it is through our engagement with the work itself and not through receiving the fruits of our work, that we find our path to liberation.

Thanks for stopping by.



*Karl Rahner, professor of Dogmatic Theology at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, is one of the most influential Catholic theologians in Europe at the present time. His contributions have been highly esteemed not only by his Catholic confreres, but also in scholarly circles outside the Church (From the Foreword to Encounters with Silence).

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Writer's Writer Friend

Once there was a writer who hadn’t published anything in a very long time. When his family and friends asked him what he was working on, he would say:

“I’m not really sure.” Or, “Sometimes it feels like something, but other times it feels like it is nothing.”

His family and friends didn’t know what to make of it. He seemed busy when he was writing and content in the rest of his life, and eventually, they learned to accept it.

Then one day while the writer was working, he felt himself slip out the top of his head, and he died, right there, lying on the couch with his computer open on his lap. He’d been in excellent health. No one really understood what had happened. But his heart had stopped beating. At least he died doing something he loved, everyone said.

Now the writer had many writer friends, and at the funeral, one of them began to ask:

“Does anybody know what he was working on?”

The other writers didn’t know. The writer’s wife didn’t know and neither did his children. And the writer’s writer friend thought this was strange. He thought it was strange that nobody knew anything about the work and strange that no one seemed to care. Or maybe what was strange was that he, the writer’s writer friend, did care.

Eventually he worked up the nerve to ask his friend’s wife if he could have a look.

“Sure,” she said and handed over the writer’s computer.

The writer’s writer friend took the computer home and set it on his desk. He made himself some coffee and paced around the room.

Why was he nervous? He was only going to read his friend’s work, which he’d done many times before. And it wasn’t that he was afraid of violating his friend’s privacy. No. That would have been a reasonable concern, but the writer’s writer friend was not troubled by that. There was something else, some personal trepidation that the writer’s writer friend felt. It was as if by reading, he knew he would come up against something, something that he… he… he didn’t quite know what it would be.

The writer’s writer friend opened the computer and began to read. It seemed that the writer had been for years working exclusively on the same document. It was organized as a sort of journal, with dates before each entry, and much of the document was simply that, banal recountings of the writer’s day-to-day, which would often morph into philosophical musings or flights of fancy. Sometimes these would turn into the beginning of a story or a sketch of a story, while at other times, the prose would break down into nonsense—impromptu nursery rhymes with made-up words, stream of consciousness narratives with little or no punctuation, and multiple pages where the writer’s fingers had clearly strayed from home row but had not ceased their flight, as if the writer had been working blindfolded and had not bothered to read over what he’d done.

“What could have been the purpose of this?” the writer’s writer friend wondered. There were so many snippets of things that could have been, with a little exercise of the will and some discipline, the basis for something interesting—a story or poem or essay. Even some of the nonsense was fascinating and could have, if properly curated, been assembled into something beautiful and strange and entirely publishable. And as these thoughts assembled in the writer’s writer friend’s mind, he began to fear. Had he, by dint of choosing to go through this morass of words and writing, unwittingly signed up to edit all this work? To break it apart and put it together the way it was meant to be assembled?

The writer’s writer friend was so troubled by these questions that he closed the laptop and tried to go straight to bed, for it was late, and he had things to do the following day, but he lay there staring at his ceiling, thinking:

“This is the work of a lifetime. I cannot do this. I will not do this. What would become of my own work? My own writing career? This work is not really any better than my own. What would be lost if this writing never saw the light of day? If no one but me ever saw it again?”

Eventually the writer’s writer friend drifted off, but he woke early the next morning and went immediately to his desk and started reading again. And as he read, little thoughts would flit through his head:

“You’re just avoiding your own work.” And, “You need to stop this foolishness.” And, “There are more pressing matters at hand.”

But even though these thoughts were agitating and compelling, they couldn’t overcome the urge to read on, and when he did finally take a break to let out the dog and make his dinner, the writer’s writer friend felt thoroughly flummoxed.

Among the many troubling aspects of the journal, perhaps the most troubling was the fact that the entries, at least the beginning of each, were often fixated on questions like, “Am I a writer? Am I wasting my time? Should I be doing something else with my life?”

The writer’s writer friend understood these questions. He’d been wrestling with them since he first began to write in earnest many years ago. But how was it that his friend had still been troubled by them and had yet simply stopped testing his work against the opinion of the world? For the writer’s writer friend, even though he had published books and won awards, knew he was still driven by his ambition to be esteemed and respected, especially by those individuals and organizations that he esteemed and respected.

That's when he realized something. The very reason he'd begun to read his friend's journal in the first place was to find the secret that had freed the writer from the compulsive need to prove himself. For hadn’t the writer, as he’d let go of his attempts to send his work out into the world become increasingly more peaceful, more wise and accepting and loving?

No. It had all been a projection on the part of the writer’s writer friend. He’d just assumed that the writer had somehow managed to free himself from this need to beat back his feelings of insufficiency and fraudulence, from the need to protect and expand the writerly identity he’d worked so hard to assemble. The truth was that his friend had never become free. The journal proved that.

“These are nothing but the self-referential musings of a lost soul,” the writer’s writer friend concluded. And with that, he vowed that he would never read the journal again.

The writer’s writer friend returned to his usual routine. He kept up with his obligations and did his writerly work. But something had changed. The zest had gone from his enterprises, or rather, he realized the zest had been gone from his life and work for some time. It was as if his life had become a constant striving towards some distant future, as if he’d been perpetually preparing for something down the line that would make or break him, but now it seemed all too clear that his half-conscious hopes and half-hidden fears were nothing but distractions from something fundamental that was continuously passing him by, though he didn’t quite know what it was. One thing was certain though: this was the fault of his friend’s journal, and when he thought about the writer’s work, he was filled with loathing and disgust.

Days passed, and the tedium continued to grow until it became intolerable. The writer’s writer friend longed to go back to his life as it had been, but there was no going back, and he had no idea how to take a new direction forward. Any alternative future he could imagine for himself felt ridiculous, farcical, a caricature full of hypocrisy and shallow posturing. Lost as he was, he thought to himself, “I have become just like my friend, and I will probably end up like him as well.” And as he slowly became resigned this fate, he decided that he might as well resume reading the journal, and so one afternoon he dug his friend’s computer from the back of his closet.

He read until late in the evening, and the next morning he picked up where he'd left off and read deep into the night. Each day he did the same thing, and he began to neglect his other duties. He began to fall behind on his deadlines. His friends and family couldn’t get hold of him, and when they did, the writer’s writer friend would be brief, eager as he was to get back to the work of reading his dead friend’s writing.

It wasn’t that he’d discovered any more meaning or coherence in the journal, but something had changed. For as he was reading, things had started to happen.

At times it was as if the ebb and flow of the words were carrying him somewhere, like he was bobbing on a raft through an impenetrable fog, headed towards some very important place he knew he would never reach. While at other times, it was as if the rhythm of the words was pointing at something, a sort of silence beneath the words, a silence which at times would paradoxically grow very loud, so loud that the words would fall to the background, like the sounds of a crowded pool when one has sunk to the bottom. At these times the writer’s writer friend could close his eyes and let the rhythm of the silence carry him still further down, a journey into some bright darkness, a journey to nowhere that was somehow deeply satisfying in itself.

“I could read this document forever,” the writer’s writer friend sometimes thought. Or, “This is all I or anyone else ever needs.” While at other times he would still think, “This is a colossal waste of time.” And, “This is an incompressible mess.”

But none of thoughts could not take hold. And the longer he read the less and less power any of the thoughts seemed to have. It was as if the silence he’d discovered while reading his friend’s document had a way of dissolving these concerns and others.

Eventually the writer’s writer friend no longer needed to sit for hours reading the document. Some days he wouldn’t read his friend’s work at all. And when he wrote, he would sometimes have the experience of the words flowing high above him, as if he were looking through a glass ceiling at fast-moving clouds. While at other times it was as if the words were welling up out of the ground and passing through him, charging his heart. The flowing words, which he’d so long believed to be his own, became strange and beautiful things, gifts beaming in from some place he would never reach but which was also somehow always at hand, always guiding and protecting him as he rose each day, as he met with his family and friends, as he walked his dog and made his dinner and published his books and continued to win his awards.

***

Thanks for reading. See you soon.




Monday, September 12, 2016

What Needs Not Be Said


I started a teacher training today at Tejas Yoga in the South Loop.  So far I've only been through the asana portion and then found out I had a full two-hour break, which means I have time to write (drat).  The afternoon session this week, and all week, is going to focus on sequencing.  How to put together a yoga practice so the practitioner can move through the practice safely with maximum benefit.

Starting the teacher training isn't the only new thing I'm doing.  I'm also trying to use this blog a little more informally than I have in the past.  Up until now I've mostly used L&L as a place to put rather polished autobiographical essays and as a home for my online writerly identity. I suppose it still will work in those ways, but I'm also working a little with the practice of letting my writing go, of putting stuff down and then sending it out where people can see it, because the truth of the matter is (or at least I believe it to be true) that I've been holding onto too much stuff for too long.  I've been too afraid to put things out in the world and it feels like they've been getting stuck in me and rotting, which has led to a defeatist attitude and a sense of being isolated.

I realize that in trying to work in this other way, I may put out a lot of mediocre or even bad writing, so if you've been thinking about unsubscribing but haven't due to the infrequency of the posts now would be a good time (and the truth is I'll never know if you do, unless of course you're a friend of mine and I come up to you with that longing look in my eyes, waiting for you to tell me you liked my last post).

Anyway, I'll do my best to consider you, reader, as I write these posts, but you can probably expect a little less polish and some more speculation.  Perhaps a few more tpyos and some half-baked or even raw ideas about writing, parenting, spiritual practice, etc.  Given how ridiculously self conscious I am, however, I wouldn't expect it to go that far.  So it's more likely there will be a surfeit of musings about my process, which at times will probably sound pretty self involved and whiny.  But maybe (maybe!) some of this will touch that part of you that's confused and overwhelmed and doesn't really know what the hell is going on despite whatever outward face you're trying to sell to the world around you.  That's my hope anyway.  And at any rate, you've been warned.

And here is a cute photo because people like those:




Thursday, November 5, 2015

Are You My Process?

Many people may not realize this, but P.D. Eastman's children's classic Are You My Mother is actually an esoteric guide to writing a short story.


Here is how it works.

You are sitting around waiting for your next great short-story idea to hatch.


Nothing is happening.

In the story, this where the mother bird flies off to get something for her baby bird to eat.

In your process, this is where you start trolling lists like Clifford Garstang's Pushcart Prize Rankings of Literary Magazines to find out where your short-story masterpiece should be placed.

Or maybe you actually get up and go to the fridge to figure out what to make your family--who are all off doing productive things--for dinner.

Never mind, writer, that you will only get yourself a snack. Never mind that you aren't even hungry. Eating is certainly preferable to sitting there staring at that blinking cursor.

Then just when you've got out the ham and the mayo and the onion and the lettuce and the bread and two kinds of cheese...


Out comes the baby bird.

Your idea is so fragile. Maybe it's just a line or two with a distinctive narrative voice. Or maybe it's a weird-ass situation with a hilarious conflict. It doesn't matter how small it is. Its tiny story heart is beating under its downy chest, and you race back to your desk and write it down.

And writing that first draft is a kind of free fall. It's fun.


Down out of the ethereal realm of pure potential, your story falls into the the world of form.

Down, down, down! It is a long way down.


Good work.

You get up and and go back to the kitchen. You make your ham sandwich. You don't even mind that you have to cut it into three parts to share it with your family when they come home for dinner.

Your confidence carries over to the next day. You get up early and meditate.


When it's time, you fire up your computer. You pull up your story.

It isn't done, of course, but like some Platonic ideal, you know its perfected final version--its mother, so to speak--is out there waiting to be discovered, and full of optimistic zeal, you set off into the unknown.


Surely the essential heart of the story is right there in your first draft, but no matter how long you look at it, you will not see it. So you begin your rewrite, and as you do, you unknowingly pass by exactly what you're looking for...


...and come up with something that isn't even close.


So you write it again.  


And then you do it again.


You're starting to get weary, but you're nothing if not persistent. You know you have to be. All the inspirational quotes from famous writers (one of which you are not) have told you as much. 

So you try again.


You still don't feel good about it, but you know you've looked at it too long. Maybe you're failing to see its quality, and so you decide to submit it to The Paris Review.  

The Paris Review writes back.


"How could I be your mother?  I am The Paris Review."

You take stock. You've written four drafts, and your baby bird isn't any closer to home. In fact, if anything you seem to be getting further and further away. Was there anything to your inspiration to begin with?


There was. You know there was.


You will finish your story. You will. You WILL!

Now you do not walk through the next draft.  You run. You change your story's setting to a zombie apocalypse in 1932 Berlin, which is somehow also in the future because it is a parallel universe.


You write it again.



And again


You know you are in danger of going off the rails, but you don't know what else to do, and you've put so much into it already. Maybe if you just keep with it you will figure it out, and that's when you see it.


This has got to be it.  


Look at it. Look at how complicated it is, how sophisticated. Look how many moving parts. There are magazines out there that publish 80-page short stories, aren't there? It doesn't matter because this is definitely it. Look at it!

Never mind how it speaks to you.


Never mind how it makes you feel!


Look at its bright colors and the cool teeth on it! Look at all the pulleys and gears! The smoke and the awesome tread! This story has it all, and determinedly, you and your delicate story go up, up, up to new and dangerous heights.


But now what's happening? The story is driving you, shaking you, running amok. It's completely kicking your ass. You try to fight it, but it is totally unmanageable. You ask yourself:

"Where is this story taking me? Why didn't I just start a novel?"

And then everything grinds to a halt.


Your story is a mess.


You feel like this.


But you are not famous.


You cry out. 


"What the #@%! am I doing?  What made me think I could write anything worthwhile?"

You want to go home. You want your mother.

And defeated, you close your document. You shut off your computer and turn off your light.

There is no way in hell you could possibly write this story again. You've given up. You've given up not only with your head; you've given up with your heart.

The next morning as you lie in bed, mocking faces appear in the random patterns of your ceiling tile. You do not shower. Even if you cared enough to shave, you could not be trusted with a razor.

Downstairs, you mumble your "Good Mornings," and as you pack the lunches, sighs well up from your chest. After everyone leaves, you sit in a chair looking out your back window. The sunlight on the leaves and grass is positively radiant.

Maybe, you think, it's not too late to become a carpenter, just like Jesus.  

And then for some reason, maybe because you want to run off to Africa, you remember that quote from Isak Dinesen, the one that says: "I write a little every day, without hope, without despair."

And you think, what a dumb quote. But you get up anyway and walk to your desk. You sit down and turn on your computer. You open a new document, and something happens.


Calmly and evenly the story starts to pour out onto the page, the words stacking themselves like stones, and a crystalline certainty circulates through your being as your tale takes shape. It's not showy or complicated or abstruse, and it doesn't even feel particularly "literary," but you make it to the end...


...and it still sucks.

But you, writer, have made it home, because you finally remember that this is your process, and yes, it is frustrating and isolating and the tangible rewards of money and prestige are so meager, but you do it because it is the only thing you've found that engages every part of your being, because it gives you a chance to conjure up something even better than the best thing you have inside of you, and sooner or later, after rewrites and feedback from trusted readers and tons of rejection, someone will like your story and publish it, or maybe not. Maybe before that happens you will let it fall by the wayside to be dealt with in some distant future project, perhaps even in some future life.

So there you have it. It's not pretty. It's not neat. It's not romantic, or certain, or even particularly pleasurable to do most of the time. But if you keep with it, you will, over time, begin to feel how fortunate you are to be able to engage the material of your life in this manner, and you will continue to get better and better at loving it, because it is your process, and it, writer, is your mother.


Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Nuances of Tic-Tac-Toe


This is how it began.  Three enormous boxes.  


Four million pieces of wood.


We set out with belief in our hearts.  

We did not possess great skill.  But we were unified in our purpose and determined to reach our goal.

Along the way, some of us got distracted.


The manual said it would take a minimum of six hours.

Bob Villa leading the entire legion of professionals from the DIY Network could not have finished in six hours.

We quickly realized it would take more than a day, and discouraged, we had to take a step back.   

Some of us needed a hug.

  

But the following weekend, we returned to our task.



Again, we did not finish.  

We took time out for family.


We completed great works of art.


And then one day, the slide went up.  A few days later, the swings followed.


Then in a flurry, the telescope went up, the flags appeared, the rock wall was assembled, and tic-tac-toe was screwed into our ship's cedar hull.


Not everyone grasped the nuances of tic-tac-toe.


But it didn't matter, because we had started with a vision, and though we encountered improperly pre-drilled holes, various design flaws, and snapped carriage bolts of irregular sizes, we brought our dream to fruition.

So as you start this week after the long three-day weekend in which we celebrated the intrepid voyage of the explorer Christopher Columbus, I hope you will feel emboldened to set off once more on your own various journeys, trusting that with faith and determination, you will see your project--whether it be the Great American Short Story or becoming a master of tic-tac-toe--through to completion.

And please, as you encounter the limits of your abilities and patience, try to remember that the ups and downs are part of it and that we must learn to enjoy the ride.  Because if we are always worried about reaching some destination or trying to stay in a state of safety or comfort, the present moment will constantly elude us, and we will fail to recognize its eternal face.  We will fail to feel its flow and see its simple, direct beauty.

Don't believe me?  Just ask Cubs manager, Joe Maddon.
"I'm always about fans worrying; go ahead and worry as much as you'd like. From our perspective, we have to just go out and play the game like we always do. I'm here to tell you, man, I just can't live that way. The line I've used is, I don't vibrate at that frequency... The process is fearless. If you want to always live your life just based on the outcome, you're going to be fearful a lot. And when you're doing that, you're really not living in a particular moment. 
If you take care of the seconds, the minutes, the hours in a day take care of themselves. So for our fans back home, please go ahead and be worried. That’s OK. But understand that from our perspective in the clubhouse, we're more worried about the process than the outcome.”
Thanks to my brother-in-law for sharing that quote from the Chicago Tribune with me, and thanks to you, brothers and sisters, for stopping by.