I used to read a lot, especially at the beginning of the pandemic lockdown. Now, not so much. I can’t say why. Is it because I am tired? Depressed? I have not been writing either. I”ve run out of things to say. Could it be that not writing has disrupted my desire to read? Or is not reading derailing my desire to write? Neither have I been drumming. That I assumed because I need to have a group and I stopped going to drum circle last year. I have been making art, working in the garden, and cooking. But how much longer will that last? It seems that anything to do with words has been gummed up. Too much effort? I don’t know. Maybe a disruption to my reading/writing– that is, my WORD addiction– is just one more consequence of this past year. Don’t know. And right now I am too tired to care.
Life just blindsided me. The details are not important, but I want to share what I know about my thinking process that is helping me cope with the confusion and insanity that are impinging on my life.
First, I have learned that:
- A situation leads to a negative thought.
- That thought leads to a feeling.
- That feeling leads to a behavior.
- That behavior can lead to detrimental physical symptoms or ailments.
The remedy for me is if I can change my thoughts, then everything else beyond it will change for the better.
So when encountering a situation, here’s what I do:
- I stop.
- I breathe.
- I reflect.
- I choose a positive thought. (“SBRC”)
I choose positive thoughts by practicing positive affirmations. There are lists all over the internet and I google them whenever I cannot come up with any on my own.
Second, for me, negative thoughts are often based on my anger at other people. Anger is my false attempt to control other people. Since I cannot control other people, then the only solution is for me to forgive them. Forgiving is not letting them off the hook; it is me letting go of the anger within myself. I feel empowered when I forgive since that puts me back in control, not them.
One more thing, regarding breathing, I just read Yogi Seane Corn’s new book, Revolution of the Soul. In it she writes there: “Breathe and everything changes.” I have found this to be true.
ljg (c) 2019
I have a love affair with libraries. When I was a child, my father used to take me to the library twice a week in the evenings and I would often walk there on Saturday mornings as well. The library was my refuge against the chaos that surrounded me.
It was the fount of all knowledge and creative inspiration for me before Google, Pinterest, and Instagram. But even in these days of the internet, the library still serves as access for many people to world wide web and the acquisition of knowledge. This points to the fact that libraries are great equalizers in our society. Everyone, no matter their status in society, in theory, can have access to knowledge.
Libraries often provide free services to those who do not have the means to pay for them: after-school tutoring, literacy and language learning labs, and technology and job-training programs. There are adult book discussion groups. There are child and youth programs: story-telling hours and college prep courses.
Libraries are the holders and purveyors of our cultures and civilization. Thousands of years ago our ancestors sat around campfires and shared the collective knowledge of the tribe with the next generations. Libraries do the same today and we must improve them in areas where needed and preserve all of them at all costs.
Last night around midnight I tossed and turned, puddling up in my sheets because it is still too wretchedly hot and humid. Finally, I got up and for some odd reason I felt like getting one of my favorite writing books off the shelf, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, by Natalie Goldberg. I did not attempt to read it, but I put it aside to pick up and peruse this morning.
In ruffling through its pages this morning, I was inspired to post about the wonders of this little book. Then I faintly recollected maybe having done that already. In searching my archives, I discovered that I had written about this book way back in February of 2013. I was astonished to read what I wrote: how this book was propelling me write in my journal 10 to 20 minutes a day–every day.
I must admit that the discipline of writing so much every day had escaped me years ago. The sad truth is that I am a writer who has not been writing. It is no wonder then that my thoughts and ideas have become a jumble. Writing helps me sort things out — even if none of it ever meets the eyes of any reader.
So, this morning I got out a composition book, my favorite black felt-tipped pen, set the timer on my phone to 5 minutes and answered the basic question “How do I feel today?” My answer is not repeatable on a family-friendly blog. I think that I am not writing because I got a lot of muck backed up inside of me that needs to be cleared away. Journaling clears the sludge like running a rotor through a blocked sewage line.
The point I am trying to make here is this: I wrote today for five whole minutes and a bit of the toxic backwater moved a bit. That’s huge.
If you would like to read the post from 2016, it is here:
‘Well, I’m back,’ says Sam at the end of The Return of the King. I have taken the last five weeks to read the three volumes that comprise Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The consequence is that I have scrapped the entire month of August in terms of doing any blogging or other kinds of writing. So I am back now from my summer reading and I hope that I can provide you with something useful from that time.
In the last almost 20 years, it seems that no one can read LOTR without comparing it with the cinematic releases. No, I am not going to do a book versus film comparison. Both are brilliant in relation to their respective media. However, I have had up until this morning a pet-peeve with both of them. It seems to me in both the film and book versions the endings are just way too drawn out. In The Return of the King book, there are six more long chapters after the destruction of the ring. And in the film I think there are just about as many– if not more– scenes following the same event. Because I consider J.R.R. Tolkien and the screenwriters of the film to be gifted in their respective crafts, this makes me wonder what I am missing. In casting about for an answer, I serendipitously stumbled across this video this morning. The issue is for me that I lacked a proper understanding of the difference between STORY and PLOT.
If you are a writer of fiction– a story-teller– this video may be helpful to you.
(Note: Another serendipitous moment: today is 46 years since Tolkien ‘sailed into the West.’)
I need a little vacation. I need to get out of Dodge for a spell. I need to go someplace where I do not have to worry about anything other than avoiding orcs and a few grumpy dwarves.
A couple of days ago I commenced a re-reading of the Lord of the Rings. Yes, yes, I am a Ringer. I’ve read the trilogy before, as well as the Hobbit. I’ve seen all the movies—the extended director’s cut with all the bonus material —many times over. I’ve read parts of the Silmarillion. I have not read Children of Hurin, The Unfinished Tales, and the Middle Earth histories. My plan is to get through all of these if I can.
My journey may take just a couple of weeks, several months, or a year. Circumstances may draw me back to the real world, but I hope that I can go there and back again before that happens.
“I’m having an adventure!” — Bilbo (from the first Hobbit movie) .
Note: if you’re a Ringer too, you may be interested in going to the resource page at the Tolkien Society. I’m like a kid in a toy store there: https://www.tolkiensociety.org/links/
I recently read Keri Smith’s book The Wander Society, another of countless books on how to jump start the creative process. The author promotes the practice of “wandering” through the world, both literally and figuratively, and learning to mindfully observe what is discovered. The book’s description at the Amazon website describes “…the act of wandering, or unplanned exploring, as a way of life.” At Goodreads I gave the book only 3 stars simply because this is not an original notion. That criticism being made, I quickly realized that I have been negligent in this very form of creative self-care.
It has been raining quite regularly for many weeks, but this morning the clouds cleared and the sun broke through. So I grabbed my camera, hopped in my car and began to wander. I ended up being entertained by a pair of white rabbits in a vegetable garden, joining a gathering of members of a bread baking guild as they made pizza in a wood-burning oven, roamed around the outside and inside of an old church, paused for a few minutes in a Zen meditation room, drove through a university, stopped at a library, and came home to a steaming bowl of home-made beef stew.
I visually documented my wandering. Here are a few of my images:
I love stationery stores. Not today’s big box stores where you buy copier paper by the carton or paper towels and coffee cups by the hundreds. No, I mean the type of stores that sell elegant linen stationery and fine fountain pens, ledger books, and sealing wax. There was a sensory experience in those old stationery stores that just did not translate to those big warehouse stores. When I do come across an old-fashioned stationery store, I cannot help but slip inside.
In my youth, there was a stationery store nearby that also sold books. In fact, it was the only bookstore for miles around with hardbound books and paperbacks too, with classy books of poetry and philosophy, with not a bodice-ripper to be seen — except if you knew where to look for them.
Books. I remember delicately opening the pages of a newly acquired book, sticking my face in the binding and inhaling the aroma of glue and fabric. You can’t do that with an e-reader.
E-readers do have their advantages. These days I can’t always read the fine print of a book, so that text enlargement function on the readers is useful. I can download the latest publication of favorite authors the second they are released. And when I have the overwhelming need at 2 in the morning to have that book on water dowsing or quantum physics for right-brained people, I can get them with a single tap on the 1-Click button.
However, there is something about a physical book that entices me. There is just something more intensely satisfying about running a slow hand over the soft, warm texture of paper– more gratifying than the cold touch of an e-reader’s slick surface of plastic. It does not even come close.
Paper can be quite sensual in its own seductive way.
ljg (c) 2017