April 11, 2017 § 6 Comments
By Maddie Lock
Every day that I don’t write is a wasted one. There’s writing and there’s everything else. This creates a spiritual conflict.
Let me explain. I am a student of Buddhism now for four years. I call myself a student because I have yet to step over any definitive line that allows me to call myself anything other than one who is still learning. A practitioner, yes, but one who struggles with the pithy and practical advice that the Buddha gave to our world.
Buddhism teaches us not to get attached to anything because everything is impermanent, in a state of constant flux. It is our perception of how we are doing that determines how we feel as we go through our day. Time hands us events in that linear way time has, our feelings follow behind like faithful dogs. I know this, yet I have the deepest sense of frustration if I can’t get to my computer and write something amazing daily. That’s right, something (that I think is) amazing, whether it’s a sentence, a paragraph or the word that fits perfectly. I’m looking for that writing “high.”
As a business owner, wife and mother, I have responsibilities. As a friend, a work-out enthusiast, and shelter dog walker I have events that provide fulfillment. I have a life. We all do, us writers, but as any one of us may confess, I write for that euphoric wash of feeling when I’m in the flow and pleased with my work.
Alas, I don’t reach the heights of ecstasy daily. Far from it. My single-mindedness stymies me. I hover over words, over ideas. My satisfaction one day turns into despair the next: It’s crap, it’s all crap! Wasted time, when I have not enough to begin with. The euphoria becomes a dark pit designed for mental flagellation.
Nothing about my attitude here would be espoused by the Buddha. After sitting under the Bodhi tree for days, he “awoke” with the wisdom that we’re all wasting our time scurrying around importantly while we worry about everything that is transitory and not worth worrying about. The Buddha didn’t feel the need to write down any of his newfound wisdom. He spoke to those who would listen and trusted them to pass on the good news in a way that worked for them. The Buddha didn’t worry about finesse; he concerned himself with the truth in the meaning. The form in which his teachings were delivered differed from place to place, person to person. He would not be impressed with my obsession for critical perfection.
Or my quest for the writing “high.”
Yet, there it is. It’s there for me to learn and remember that this feeling of limitless promise—not to be taken for granted but to be cherished for the gossamer sweetness that it is—comes and goes as it will. It cannot be harnessed and it’s never intrinsic. It is, after all, perception.
Perhaps, one day, what I write on this day, in this time, I can give to the world and the world will say: well done, for now. I’ll take that “high” for as long as it lasts and however far it will take me.
I can almost hear the Buddha sigh.
Maddie Lock is a semi-retired business partner, animal lover and Buddhist enthusiast. She has published two children’s books about dogs, writes essays about important life issues and is ardently working on a memoir about her newly-discovered German family.