I woke this morning feeling like January was slipping away before it had even started. So the Hans Brinker in me stuck my finger in that dike as I began to clear the clutter off my desk. Under one pile, I pulled out Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing to return it to the bookcase after having lain on my desk for a month or more unopened. I didn't get very far, however; because for the hundredth time, I opened it and, if you've ever read it, you know what happened next. Yes, I got caught again in Bradbury’s zest for writing, for life, since they were one and the same for him. I began reading some of the many places I had magic markered. If there was ever a book that walked its talk, that is it.
Most all of us want something different as each year starts. We are keenly aware our life does not meet our expectations for it. But we always start in the same mood, disposition, and doubt that caused us to start listing our resolutions to begin with, the only thing new or different being the sheet of paper on which we’re writing. So let’s do something different this year. Let’s just start doing what we are waiting for. No plans, no schedules, just do – as Yoda told us.
Here’s how dear Ray Bradbury puts it with a few insertions to make it clear this works for anyone:
If you are writing (living, working, parenting) without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer (alive, a worker, a parent). It means you are so busy keeping one eye on the commercial market (bank account), or one ear peeled for the avant-garde coterie (what someone else thinks), that you are not being yourself. You don’t even know yourself. A writer (and everyone else) should be excited. He should be a thing of fevers and enthusiasms.
If you expect something different you must fight through the fog of sameness and complacency and be different right from the start. You wonder how, since this appears to be the problem? You’re telling me you don’t already know how to laugh, to dance to music, to sigh over poetry, to feel the penetrating power of beauty to lift you tall? Use them then every time you begin to head into the weeds. That’s what I’m going to do.
Then say to yourself every morning as you rise, “I will not end this month the same person I began it.”
Change is not a future event. How else do you think we change, but by doing right now? In 25 words or less: How do you want it to be different? Get clarity on that and then, live in that way right now. If it lasts only minutes the first little while, that’s still minutes of a different way of being. Each time you pick yourself up and start again, now it is anew. This is how change happens, spontaneously but driven by the intensity of your desire. Keep your vision close to your toes, shuffle if you have to, but be a doing that is your being, the you that yearns to feel alive and fearless. Your actions inform you of who you are.
Stick with me this month, and I’ll share with you what I find along the way to know myself anew. Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing is a great place to start whether you’re a writer or not. His enthusiasm for life will infect you and what a glorious infection to have.