Ten Today: Buddha and the French

July 18, 2016
I doubt I have ten minutes uninterrupted, but I’ll give it a shot. I’m at my other other other job tonight. This one teaches me to love. I practice my little Buddha steps here, learning to appreciate every mundane, automatic movement with mindfulness, paying attention. In fact, if I don’t pay attention, let my mind wander as it is wont to do when nothing in particular stimulates it, I make money or cleaning mistakes, ones that make me feel like an incapable incompetent. After all, I’ve been at the job for years now (Obviously my self-judgment needs some work).
So this one teaches me patience and presence. The other one, writing, teaches me a different kind of little Buddha practice–patience and detaching from struggle. That one challenges me too much. I wrote all day on a subject that didn’t particularly interest me–under deadline. Tonight, after the store closes at 10, and I get home just before 11, I will return to the work. It isn’t quite right and it’s due no later than Monday. That’s today. I figure before midnight is still Monday.
A new client testing my skills to evaluate hiring me, I do indeed want to impress. Right now, my draft is not impressive. To my credit, I have faked my way into the door–partially. The job description called for fluency in French. Though I have been around French speakers for the last 35 years, coming and going, and I took a couple years in college, even wrote and orally presented a fairly competent 20 minute lesson on Montaigne in grad school, I’m not sure fluent and French should both be used in the same sentence to describe me.
However, with the help of my somewhat strong reading skills, a tip here and there from the Frenchman in the house and Google, I patched together a rather inexpert but passable draft of an article discussing the meaning and origin of 5 French sayings or proverbs or adages or aphorisms. I used all those words and more to keep it less mind-numbing.
What I will come home to is a stuffy draft that I needed to leave anyhow, though the impulse to go home and finish it is way stronger than my need to practice Buddhist patience and presence here at yogurt zombie Monday. I need to make it personable, friendly and fun. Oy, that should pull on every iota of craft I can muster.
Well, only one customer intruded on my ten. Good sign. Maybe the piece will magically gel tonight before my eyes turn to lidded gravel.


Image: Architectureofbuddhism.com

Writers Are Spider Mistresses

A time for telling truth has come upon us now.
We needn’t lie to get us through these times
You see it in my eyes and writ upon my brow.
No need to say you understand these rhymes.

When writing is the mistress:

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.” – Winston Churchill

credit: a3.files.biography.com

First a mistress then a master, does Churchill mean that at first writing a book is alluring, a release into a world of pleasure, and then it becomes dominating, controlling, and confining like an addiction or a duty? In other words, it starts with the idea of writing a book, the germ of a subject that could spread into thousands of words, which inflames the contagion that impels the fingers to tap in order to scratch the itch and twitch of adrenaline desire-thought. The impassioned writer proclaims, “There is a book in me.”

But after the initial caffeinated burst of bluster-strained strands of webbed words–clever and comely–the chore of the work settles in, each day pouring water into the well to keep the once deemed fertile land irrigated and quell the fires of doubt and douse the flames of drudgery in the daily threat of stage five alert word draught. When the ideas stop flowing, the writing is a task of terrible resistance and fear sets in. The writer frets, “I don’t have enough, not good enough, not enough heart, authenticity, interest. But I have invested so much time and ink, I can’t stop now.”

Or was Churchill a switch hitter and he just means that writing a book is like loving a woman–not your wife–being in her control or under her spell, and then like loving a man?

No, he means that writing enslaves. It is an enormous envelope of time and thought, and the promise of her–writing–what she potentially makes of her lover–writer–is a sculptor of marble ideas smoothed into delightful statues of truthful experience and penetrating insight whose vision inscribes beauty into the minds of those envisioning the word figures and rests there completing that mind, that reader, who is forever changed or confirmed or comforted by some moral missive, sublime image, or worldly flavor.

In reality, the writer is a whittler of wood who shapes a block into a toy sailboat by toiling away at the carving craft hour by hour to make animation from the inanimate. The writer makes sound from ink. Perhaps it is this need to be heard and to connect with another human being that is the real potential that arouses the desire–the ultimate desire–that causes the penner to heed the call of the word, arise each day, wipe away the sticky, silken threads of the dreamscape, to hack away at the mental chains of complacency and write. That same desire thereafter ensnares her in the matrix of predator and prey, reader and read, writer and book, the book she violently tosses at her readers.

The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout
Down came the rain and washed the spider out
Up came the sun and dried up all the rain
And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.

Writers are spider mistresses.

credit: wondersinthedark.files.wordpress.com