It’s fair to say I haven’t nailed down the direction for this blog yet. I’d hoped to be a little closer by now than I was when I started the 500 words challenge, but I’m not sure I am.
However, I’m not going to use that as an excuse to quit.
I’ve been really bad about that with things in the past. If I don’t really take to them right away, I tend to give up. However, I haven’t really felt the urge to do that with this challenge, at least not very strongly (old habits die hard). This is in spite of the fact that the stated purpose of the challenge hasn’t really materialized for me.
That said, we’re talking a little over 2 weeks here. That’s not even enough time to build a habit, much less feel like long-term change has really set in. So if I were to quit now, I’m not sure I’d honestly be able to say, for example, that I really tried this method and it didn’t work.
Another thing is I feel like I’ve tried literally everything else to improve my writing besides establishing a regular, frequent, public writing practice. And while I probably won’t continue to post every day after completing this challenge, I think I will set a regular interval of at least once a week to post somewhere.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have that voice in my head telling me that everything I write is terrible and that this is an exercise in self-absorption. But one of the most important things Vedanta taught me was that I don’t have to believe everything I think (hat tip to RuPaul for that particular way of wording it).
In fact, for a time when I was a regular at my local Vedanta Society, I was dealing with a particularly rough patch of negative self-talk. I talked to the Resident Minister about it, and she asked me an interesting question. “What do you think Swami Vivekananda would say to that?” she asked, knowing what a big admirer of his writing I was (and still am).
I had a light bulb moment. “He’d probably say, ‘That’s not the truth.’”
One of the most fundamental insights I got from my studies of Vedanta is that our perceptions are rarely as accurate as we think they are. We are all the unreliable narrators of our own lives, especially when we don’t realize that. Modern science backs up the idea that human memory is not as reliable as we think.
In any case, it’s helpful for me to consider that a thought appearing in my mind isn’t necessarily the truth. There’s a saying in Vedanta that the untrained mind is like a drunk monkey that’s been stung by a bee. And while I wouldn’t say my mind is anywhere near perfectly trained, it’s definitely a lot more trained than it was 10 years ago.
If you just watch your thoughts for a few minutes without trying to analyze or judge them, you’ll be amazed at the stuff that comes up. It’s not because there’s anything wrong with you – it’s just how we’re built. Realizing that helped me be more compassionate with myself and with others because it’s something we all have to deal with.
So onward I go. Even if my writing is terrible, there are worse things in life than bad art.
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