This was a ten minute timed writing exercise offered in Natalie Goldberg’s book An Old Friend from Far Away which I just cracked open this morning. The instructions are simple. Get a clock or timer and give yourself ten minutes. Start with “I am looking at…” when you come to the end of the thought, go back to I am looking at and start again. Take the whole ten minutes. Do not erase. Do not over think. Let it flow.
Here is mine. The first half was influenced by my morning’s meditation; the second half is more worldly:
I am looking at the thoughts that roll through my mind. Sometimes like wisps of air and sometimes thick and dense like thunderclouds.
I am looking at the unexpected emotions that bubble to the surface when I hold myself, my worldly self, in the palm of my own hands and examine her with compassion and love as one would do for a small child.
I am looking at the crust, the layer that encompasses me. A layer created for protection of the heart, the soft insides. How constricting the crust is. How dry and crumbly. How suffocating.
I am looking at the infinite. I am looking in and not out. I can see deep down as if looking through the portal of a submarine to the ocean floor. I see bright coral and soft fish. There is light and life thriving down there and a serenity unknown to the surface above.
I am looking at the crumbs on my counter from the dinner I prepared the night before.
I am looking at how cooking is an expression of my love and how I lost interest in doing it for a time. But the flame of it is still alive and I am breathing on it lightly now, rekindling it in the gentlest way without using force or lighter fluid. I am done with all that. I will let what is, be. I will let me, be.
I am looking at my steaming mug of peppermint tea sitting beside me, my friend on this writing walk. Because writing like this is a walk. You put on your shoes and you set off. You know at the outset the general direction your feet are headed but you never know what you will see along the way and you certainly never know where you’ll end up. We have more inside us, more layers than we will ever know. They are all there for the exploring. We need not just ride the surface, we can bring all of our selves to the party. The party will be better for it.
Tea bag quote that dangled from that cup of peppermint tea: “When you are in tune with the unknown, the known is peaceful.”
Comments and writing…
If you end up giving this exercise a try and feel bravely and generously and vulnerably like sharing it please post it, or any part of it, in the comments below. If you have a blog of your own and want to post it there, let me know in the comments and I can link to it. And if you just feel like doing some free writing check out Just Write.
Love to you on the journey.