Practice

My practice is writing. My practice is paying attention, observing, noticing what changes within in response to what changes without. My practice is sending love to the natural world. Is that true? I think so. Feeling kinship with trees.

I like to observe the small details: the light on the plants that thrive on the edge of the woods. The water stains from years of rain on the nail heads on the side of the shed. The quiet signs of life.

Of course the usual doubts arise: Is this practice enough? How does it compare to others’? Does it look magical enough? It doesn’t involve scrying into a crystal ball. I don’t adorn myself in special clothes. My practice isn’t tipping Donald Trump off the public stage.

But my practice does involve ritual, and when I think about it, I do use a magic wand (a BIC Round Stick, blue, medium point).

Even though those thoughts arise, I have enough curiosity to combat the habitual doubt. I have enough experience, enough time with good teachers to recognize the habitual doubt as little more than a well established reflex, real but not true, to quote Tara Brach.

Part of my practice, therefore, is practicing trust, practicing imagination — trusting and imagining that my presence and intention and loving observation and even my restraint make a difference. That my showing up wherever I show up — at work, at the printing press, waiting in line with a crowd of restless fellow humans — makes a difference.

Part of my practice is abiding with uncertainty and an absence of proof.

Some of my practice these days is discernment. Listening and feeling for the words and thoughts that most want to take form. Listening. Staying present for the sometimes long spaces of quiet between impulses to write or speak.

Part of my practice is recognizing the power of written and spoken words to open new possibilities, new worlds, and therefore to respect the necessary silence and to choose with care.

Part of my practice is noticing how doubt can be an unintentional ally. How it spurs me to articulation.

Part of my practice is noticing how I tumble into another world as I move the pen across the page.

Part of my practice is letting go and allowing something else like comfort or spaciousness to arise when I cease needing to know my impact.

Part of my practice is recognizing my practice.

***

coda: As I feel myself propelled into another world by these words, I notice how confident it sounds, more confident than I actually usually feel. And that is part of the power of word making, spell casting. The process of writing is a building, a forming, a casting. And that’s probably why I love to write, why it is my practice. As I discover what words lie in wait, and write them, I am filled with whole sentences of clarity and purpose.

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