After having done all I can for a writing project—after it’s finished, published, promoted, and my energy for it is exhausted—I enter creativity’s no-man’s-land. It’s a sprawling, barren landscape. Either I’m worn out from the last project with little energy for the next, or I feel used up, as though I’ve reached the end of inspiration’s wellspring, or I’m writing but whatever I draft is a sprawling, blathering desert of words. I feel bereft; I’ve left a lovely world of my own making and can never return. I’m hopeless, because despite whatever success my project achieved, it’s inadequate, and besides, what more could I possibly do? I wonder whether I’ll ever write well again.
Luckily I’ve been around this block enough times to know this emptiness passes. Continue reading
For years I’ve struggled with meditation. I’m faithful about taking time, getting still, and waiting; I’m disciplined if nothing else. But the spiders of my thoughts begin crawling, and none of my methodical attempts to corral them (attending my breath, reading poetry, reading scripture, practicing zen meditation, practicing centering prayer, kneeling, walking, walking the labyrinth, repeating a mantra, reciting psalms, chanting, toning) seems to help. These failures nonetheless lend a sort of focus to my days. I know that research shows physical and mental health benefits of meditation, and I believe relationship with mystery needs tending much like every other relationship. So I soldier on, determined but painfully aware that as a modern contemplative I’m disastrous. Continue reading