Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Discipline of Devotion

I am guest posting on Write Stuff again today. I would send you over to check it out except that it is just a recycle of a recent post from here because I couldn’t get my act together to get Harpy Shampoo II ready in time. So instead I encourage you to go on over to check out the other guest writers posting there this week. I have found something useful, entertaining or insightful about each one so far. I was especially moved by Caryn’s musings about the dilemma of distractions for a writer--something that has been much on my mind lately.

Oh those distractions! It's one of my worst bugaboos. But it isn't just things, people and tasks in the physical world that take me out of the creative flow, it is thoughts, memories, images popping into my mind that inspire ideas for new projects and tempt me to jot notes for them instead of remaining focused on the project at hand. But those same free-floating thoughts have so often been the source of the thing that my project needed that I didn't know it needed, I can't just shake a stick at them and chase them off or at myself to whip the eyes of my mind front and center.

As with everything else, it seems to be about balance and boundaries. I don’t claim to have the answers. My musings this past few months have been all about the questions and the testing of potential solutions that give mixed results. Life keeps butting in. But then, life is the raw material with which we weave our magical mysteries so we can’t fence ourselves off from it.

I recycled Discipline is Love in Practice partly because my groping in it seems to have grasped what feels like the key: Nurture the love for the practice and product of your art and everything else will fall into place. I can’t prove that. Not yet anyway. But I have clear memories from past successes, memories I have purposely cultivated to harvest their secrets, that all have one thing in common: Devotion.

It was love for my vision of the finished story that grounded me so that distractions just flowed through and around me either adding their energy to the effort or dissipating due to inattention. These occasions were rare and the last one was nearly a decade ago. I have been seriously distracted for that long! But I am starting to remember just what it was that attracted me to this avocation and kept me plugging away even when all the hope and joy (and yes the Joy too) seemed to have seeped out of it.

The discipline of devotion does not need the tactics of a taskmaster to keep us on task. Nor does it require of us to sacrifice anything that is truly precious to us. It will, though, focus our attentions on the heart of the matter so that how we define precious is constantly re-evaluated, and it will grow organically the boundaries that keep frivolous distractions at bay. What is left are those distractions that arise from dueling devotions: other loves like family, community, friends, work, the Sacred by whatever name you hold it dear. Only the discipline of devotion in each of those areas can create the conditions in which all of them are thriving but none at the expense of any other.

I confess that these insights are coming to me as I write this. I must now devote myself to applying them for the proof will be in the practice.

0 tell me a story:

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