I don’t know about you, but sometimes, when I hear over and over how “beautiful” or “life-changing” or “spectacular” a location is, I don’t want to go. "Can’t be that good." "I’ll just be disappointed." "Too many tourists." "Everyone lone else is writing about it, what new could I bring?"
Do you ever do that, let your mind talk you out of an adventure, so you don’t do what you have always wanted to do? I have, and I know there is a lot I’ve missed out on in life just because of that negative mind.
Luckily, in spite of all the writing superlatives and eye-popping photographs of Peru and Machu Picchu, in spite of the fact that everyone I meet now has gone, is going, or knows someone who hiked the Inca Trail, I overcame my negative mind and I went.
And do you know what?
Peru was beautiful, Machu Picchu was spectacular, and hiking on trails carved by the Incas was life-changing.
So, what does this have to do with the craft of writing? Well, adventure (and an adventure can be just deciding to to get out of bed in the morning) and writing are similar.
Both adventure and writing require a leap of faith.
What if: My jet crashes? I get food poisoning? l slip and fall off the side of an Andean peak? What if: My friends laugh at me for wanting to be a writer? My Seventh Grade English teacher smirks and says, "I knew you couldn't do it?" I can’t think of anything to write?
And both adventure and writing can bring a new perspective on life.
For example, before I traveled to Peru, I never appreciated the richness of the civilizations in South America, didn't know that there are 3000 varieties of potatoes, that 30 ton boulders can be formed into walls that have the grace of a river, that the timing of the sunrise over a mountain peak really matters.
Another example: Before I started writing this post, I never fully realized how often I allow my negative mind to make decisions for me. The act of writing helps me be more aware of my choices.
Here is a small photo album (photos by either me or my husband Jim. When you have been together for over 30 years, you start to dress alike and you lay claim to each others' photos. One thing is sure, photos of flowers, birds, or doorways will have been taken by me). The photos are accompanied by some of my favorite poems, because one of the greatest adventures in life can be stepping into someone else's mind.
A Sort of a Song
Let the snake wait under his weed and the writing be of words, slow and quick, sharp to strike, quiet to wait, sleepless. -- through metaphor to reconcile the people and the stones. Compose. (No ideas but in things) Invent! Saxifrage is my flower that splits the rocks. William Carlos Williams
There is a smile of love, And there is a smile of deceit; And there is a smile of smiles, In which these two smiles meet.
(And there is a frown of hate, And there is a frown of disdain; And there is a frown of frowns Which you strive to forget in vain,
For it sticks in the heart's deep core, And it sticks in the deep backbone.) And no smile that ever was smiled, But only one smile alone—
That betwixt the cradle and grave It only once smiled can be. But when it once is smiled There's an end to all misery.
O, Karma, Dharma, pudding and pie,
gimme a break before I die: grant me wisdom, will, and wit, purity, probity, pluck & grit. Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, gimme great abs & a steel-trap mind, and forgive, Ye Gods, some humble advice-- these little blessings would suffice to beget an earthly paradise: make the bad people good-- and the good people nice; and before our world goes over the brink, teach the believers how to think.
THE GUEST HOUSE
This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice. meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes. because each has been sent as a guide from beyond. Jelaluddin Rumi
High up in the apple tree climbing I go, With the sky above me, the earth below. Each branch is the step of a wonderful stair Which leads to the town I see shining up there. Climbing, climbing, higher and higher, The branches blow and I see a spire, The gleam of a turret, the glint of a dome, All sparkling and bright, like white sea foam. On and on, from bough to bough, The leaves are thick, but I push my way through; Before, I have always had to stop, But to-day I am sure I shall reach the top. Today to the end of the marvelous stair, Where those glittering pinacles flash in the air! Climbing, climbing, higher I go, With the sky close above me, the earth far below.
Don't be lazy.
(and don't forget to love and forgive).