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19 July 2010 @ 08:17 am
Hand-written journal project + first entry: Writing Undoes Me  
For some time now I've been wanting to go through my hand-written journals and organize the most interesting entries. I haven't been able to figure how to do this exactly, and I'm still not sure, but I have decided on something: I am going to start reading through my paper journals regularly and from time to time, post on LiveJournal the most interesting stuff I find. After I'm finished, at least I'll have all my favorite stuff in one, online location. Eventually, I might make a book out of it for family posterity which sounds kind of fun.

So without further ado, here is an entry from June 13, 2006

Writing Undoes Me


I've just read a short essay entitled "Writing Undoes Me" by Pico Iyer in Shambhala Sun magazine. In essence, Iyer observes that the more he writes, the less he believes in writing. The more time he spends sorting, exploring, analyzing, and ordering the jumble of energy called thoughts that pours from his head onto the page, the less substance and reality it seems to have. Writing helps him to recognize more clearly the construct of the self as just that -- a construct, a conglomeration of thoughts, beliefs, memories, stories, labels, and relationships that he takes for his separate self. Writing is an activity that might seem to reinforce the self as the author finds evidence for his perspectives through the thought processes required to put thought on paper. But for Iyer, the process ultimately works to unravel his sense of a separate identity because he sees all the changes his mind passes through. Writing becomes a form of meditation for him.

I strongly identify with this idea of writing as a process that unravels the self. I think its power to undo me is what has kept me so faithful to it throughout my life. I cannot easily describe what happens in my head when I write, but I can give a general shape of the feelings I pass through as I write. They aren't complicated.

Typically, I feel as though I am entering somewhere when I begin to write, and the entering usually feels a bit effortful. There is a feeling of resistance. I mostly always feel this transition from non-writing to writing mind. It isn't unpleasant, but it isn't easy, either. It's a little like starting to break a sweat while exercising. Sometimes it requires considerable patience to remind myself to slow my hand down enough to form the letters legibly. After a while, my mind begins to settle, and I find myself entering a zone of presence that is special to writing. Each letter, each word, forms in a line across the page, and my mind slowly begins to harmonize with that pace. That is the place of peace, and it is the strongest indication that writing really is a contemplative activity that undoes my usual sense of self. There is peace in writing mind.