Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Writing Peace

"We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand. Choose a place...and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine." ~E.M.

Forester, A Room with a View
Yesterday I read a post on Theatre Folk that talks about how the physical place where a writer is located effects the quality of the writing. So often, we think writing is some elusive, muse-like magic that just shows up when it's good and ready. I'm still waiting for my muse to walk through the door, so I figured that while I'm waiting I should follow the advice of E.M. Forester and hang out in the sunshine.

Right now as I'm writing this post, sunshine is streaming through my living room window, dappling the keyboard. My apartment faces into the courtyard (which sounds lavish, but I can assure you it's not) so I can see the goings on of all my neighbors if they're at their windows. This also means I avoid a great majority of the street noise, though because I'm on a higher floor, I also get the sunlight. It's a win-win for me and my writing. There are some trees and butterflies outside right now. The blue sky is swirled with clouds and the breeze in gently blowing. It's a peaceful kind of place.

By my desk I keep three things taped to the wall. One is a card with the quote from Thomas Jefferson, "The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do." The art of brevity and good editing. The second is a card that has my 2009 to-do list. I wrote it up in December of 2008 and so far, I'm doing pretty well. I'm actually on track to complete all 10 by the end of the year. They are things I am really interested in, and just needed to dedicate the time to them. For example, I wanted to cook more, get a new apartment, and expand the reach of my writing. Done, done, and done. The third thing is a card with a simple quote by John F. Kennedy: "Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process."

I used to think that peace was a destination. An achievement. Since I was a teenager, I made one simple wish on birthdays, when I'd see the first star at night, whenever I'd blow an eyelash from my fingertip. I just wanted to feel at peace. Sounds like such an easy thing to have. Just stop worrying and feeling anxious and scared and stressed, right? Right. And all of that was very hard for me. Much harder than I wanted it to be so in addition to feeling all of these things I also felt frustrated. Where was that damn peace of mind hiding?

Now I know that peace wasn't hiding at all. In order to access it, I had to go out into the world and live. Peace doesn't have a permanent place at all. It's an active, living, breathing way of life that moves with us, within us. It's accessible at any and every moment. And just because we feel it at this moment, doesn't mean it will be readily apparent the next. It is a state of mind that we must continually commit to, and share with others. And eventually, it just becomes a part of us. We will, with time, patience, and practice, be a living vessel for peace, and I hope my writing takes on that form as well. Though to tell you the truth, sunshine on my keyboard certainly helps.

The photo above is the view from my desk in my living room, where I do most of my writing. If you look closely you can see my reflection in the bottom left corner, snapping the photo.


Josh said...

I was looking through some of my old journals last night and I found an interesting sentence about peace of mind:

"Peace of mind is staying out of conversations you're not ready for. It's okay to be quiet."

There wasn't much context, so I'm not sure what was happening.

I wish my writing room looked as nice as yours:)

Christa said...

Hi Josh! I love that quote. Do you mind if I post it up on the site with credit to you? I am a collector of great quotes and this one fits the bill for sure!