Monday, November 27, 2006

Writing (and Living) With Gratitude

The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it. -- Thich Nhat Hanh
Have you ever noticed how sometimes, when we're given things, we aren't aware of the gifts until they're in our hands a while... or gone too soon?

Gifts like our ability to clasp a pen in our hands... or simply see words on a page?

Or like our imaginations... which help us transform words into scenes and images?

Or our willingness to take risks... and fail... and keep trying... day after day, year after year... until we get the words right?

What would life be like without these gifts?

And what would our lives be like without stories...or without friends who tell us stories ... and who listen when we have our own stories to share?

It's so mysterious, this process of living and writing, not knowing what comes next, or from where, waiting without losing hope that something will emerge from the mystery of light playing on the water.

Writing (and living) with gratitude helps, I think, keep us afloat as we keep swimming toward an unknown destination.

As T.S. Eliot writes in Four Quartets:
In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.
Even as we struggle, like Eliot, to arrive at what we are not, we have so much to be grateful for in our lives... if only we open our eyes and see what we're given.

In Julia Cameron's Blessings, she writes:
A life of gratitude is built upon optimism, expectation, and attention to the good of every instant as it unfolds. This is not denial of adversity. Rather, the choice to consciously count--and encounter--my moment-to-moment good is a spiritual discipline. My trained optimism creates in me a stamina funded in the constant flow of minute but perceptible spiritual nutrients which fuel me, body and soul.
The next time that you find yourself struggling to find a way into a story, to reach a place where you are not yet... give thanks for whatever glimmer of light draws you into the process.

Whatever the sea gives you, accept it with gratitude.

For more information on writing and gratitude, visit these links:,-Wheres-My-Gratitude?&id=238580

And for information about a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging gratefulness around the world, check out:

PS - At this time of year, I'd like to offer a special note of gratitude to the many Wordswimmers--especially each month's guest swimmer--whose support over the past year has helped keep me afloat week after week.

1 comment:

jo'r said...

Wordswimmer’s choices of references and thoughts frames the act of writing a lot like a spiritual discipline, which it comes close to being, I think. Sitting in a quiet room and facing the empty page ("the mystery of light playing on the water") is almost like a Buddhist meditation, a little bit of emptying oneself and being open to whatever comes. Sometimes we may try to force our imagery and the path ahead, but a true openness to what the fictional character wants and has set in motion seems the ultimate meditative goal. The piece by T. S. Eliot fits well and lends itself to uncovering the creative process of story writing.