Some days it can be difficult to get here. I don’t mean get to Costa where I usually write these posts, because I am writing at my desk this morning and I can write anywhere if I put my mind to it. And that’s the key. I can do pretty much anything if I apply myself.
All the excuses I make; all the obstacles I put in the way – the appointments in my diary, the household chores, the people around me who, bless their dear hearts, want something from me, the emails, notifications, special not-to-be-missed,one-day-only offers. All such things are vying for my attention and it is so, so easy for me to put them first.
I can prioritise my day away until, finally, I collapse in a heap in front of some mindless Netflix offering that in all probability I will not remember tomorrow and certainly will be long gone from my memory by the end of the year.
I can prioritise the writing of books and the signing of books and the selling of books and I can prioritise the organisation of the signing and selling of books.
I am so, so prone to prioritising what gives me enjoyable, reassuring feedback – what tells me I am doing something useful in the world or what brings me enjoyment. I can prioritise my life away with distraction, reach my final breath on my final day on the planet and look back and say, yep, I sold a lot of books. I watched a lot ofTV. I can even look back and convince myself I did a certain amount of good, maybe even a lot of good.
Or, I can stop and take a deep breath. Then I can take another one. And if I permit myself, I can take a whole series of deep breaths, focusing on the moment, addressing my attention to the stillness that surrounds my breath, the stillness that is all about me when I clamour with thoughts of how many book I will sell, or what the outcome of the war in Sudan might be, or whether I should be acting any differently from what I am doing right now.
And all that time, the stillness is there, just being, as out of it arises every thought that hovers for a moment before evaporating back into emptiness, every selfish or goodwill intention, every act aimed at assuring myself of my value, every physical construct, every object made of atomic particles, every electron that spins about them, making up a physical universe that is dancing, waltzing its way about an infinite ballroom of emptiness that some call love.
And I can preoccupy myself with anything and everything that is not love, that is not emptiness, untilI choose to stop and draw that breath and then another, until I decide to let it all go and let the emptiness that is love have me back.
In his poem The Great Wagon, the Sufi poet, Rumi, said,Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.I don’t think there is any grass in Rumi’s field. And I know a little more now about what he meant by meeting me there.