As Tudor has already hinted, we are both planning some upcoming life changes that we’ll talk more about on Saturday.
For me, the year ahead will require a re-focussing of time and commitment; I’ll need to stop dancing from one writing project to the next and learn to commit to just one or two.
Knowing that I’ll have to put some of my writing on the back burner for the next while has me a bit anxious, but at the same time it’s helped me sort out what I really do most want to accomplish (and even how I define ‘accomplishment’).
Over the next months, I won’t be looking for fame and riches, but have decided the one daily writing practice to which I do want to adhere is writing a “One good thing” entry.
Let me explain. My son Mark brought me back a lovely Italian leather journal from a recent school trip – so lovely that of course I felt my writing couldn’t possibly live up to its aesthetic standard! So it sat there, untouched, but I felt guilty every time Mark asked me, hopefully, if I had started using it yet.
So I took some colourful, fine felt pens out of my desk drawer and sat down with the journal. I stared at the thick, creamy pages, took a breath and wrote “One good thing today is that I was charmed by the companionship of two old men I saw having coffee together in Tim Hortons.”
That started me on a daily practice of recording one good happening from the day; a quiet moment, a summertime festival, a joke from one of the kids.
Those of you who write memoir pieces know the result is sometimes prose that you’d be leery to share with any of your family members – especially your children! It’s a nice change to write a journal that I’d be happy to leave out on the coffee table, and in fact I’ve written in the front that I’d like it to be given to Mark when I eventually kick the bucket. I hope it gives him a glimpse back at the many happy memories he had a part in.
Of course, others might call this a ‘gratitude journal’, and the positive effects of keeping one are well-discussed. How easy it can be to focus on the negative – writing my ‘one good thing’ book will, I hope, help re-dress the balance.
It will also be interesting to see how expansive my interpretation of the word ‘good’ will prove to be over the year ahead. As was so well described in CBC’s Ideas in the Afternoon program today (Say No To Happiness by producer Frank Faulk), a richly-led, satisfying life isn’t one in which ‘happiness’ is the prime goal, but perhaps one in which one’s (inevitable) suffering is given meaning.
So over the months to come, I may gain the wisdom to see that the ‘one good thing’ in my day was actually the thing I would have most liked to avoid! But right now, I’m enjoying recording the perfect bloom on the delphinium, the glass of wine with Mom, and the fireworks over English Bay.
Whatever your plans for the year ahead, I hope they will include many contemplative, creative pauses of your own.
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