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Posts Tagged ‘Writing Down the Bones’

Riding home on the 6 and then L trains from work tonight, I finished up my latest read, “Writing Down the Bones,” by Natalie Goldberg. While reading the very last pages of the afterward (which is in interview format via Tami Simon of “Sounds True”), I was so wholeheartedly moved that I was oh so nearly brought to tears right there on the train (can you say, “awkward”?).

The excerpt is below, but what I also want to say first is that I love how she says (via her own personal “guru,” Katagiri Roshi), whatever it is that you love, that you want to be doing more than anything, make THAT your practice. In fact, not just make it, but that IS your practice. For her it is writing. For me that would be acting, for another it might be math, painting, building, cooking, etc. THAT is the (spiritual, no religion necessarily needed) practice of your life.

What she says below also reminds me of the late great Mystic of the Theatre, Elenora Duse, who said that the point of it all was to forget the self. To me that does not mean to discard the Great Self that is within you, that is pushing and pulling you in all ways to become and express and be all that you are to be, your whole reason for being. It means in the pursuing of your (own personal) practice, forget that small self, that objects, throws a tantrum and a fight, says you can’t, you’re not good enough, talented enough, IMPOSSIBLE IMPOSSIBLE IMPOSSIBLE. Because the truth of it is that’s really none of your business. So look at yourself squarely, tell the truth about what your joy is, release “control” of any needed outcome to it and just get busy “practicing.”

Excerpt from the afterward of “Writing Down the Bones,” by Natalie Goldberg:

“Q: What does “Don’t be tossed away” mean?

A: Don’t be tossed away by your monkey mind. You say you want to do something–(example)”I really want to be a writer”–then that little voice comes along, “but I might not make enough money as a writer.” “Oh, okay, then I won’t write.” That’s being tossed away. These little voices are constantly going to be nagging us. If you make a decision to do something, you do it. Don’t be tossed away. But part of not being tossed away is understanding your own mind, not believing it so much when it comes up with all these objections and then loads you with all these insecurities and reasons not to do something.

As I got closer to finishing this book, I had tremendous fear both of failure and success. I stopped working on “Bones” for almost six months and became a baker at a restaurant…..One day during a break I took a walk…and I fell down sobbing, and I said, “Nat, you have to do it for Katagiri(her “guru” mentioned earlier in the book), forget about yourself.” And that gave me the drive to do it. In my mind I grabbed on to Katagiri and told myself, “I’m doing it for him.” I have as much insecurity as anybody else, but I don’t pay attention to myself so much when I’m in the process of doing something that I really want. I don’t think, “Natalie, do you want it? Don’t you want it?” Because that fear of success and failure stops me. If I think of myself, I get caught in myself, like everyone else. First my insecurities, then my overblown idea of myself. I swing from one extreme to the other. But if I forget myself, then I can do it. Don’t be thrown off by yourself or anyone else. Let your big mind move forward.

At the time I was writing this book, I felt this tremendous love for Katagiri Roshi. When I say love, I mean beyond anything I’d ever felt. And maybe I needed to share that with readers. But that great love was something bigger than good or bad. He had pulled true Natalie out of me. So, big Natalie wanted to do it for big Katagiri. And now what I understand is that big Natalie and big Katagiri were never separate. But that’s not psychological. That’s the truth.

The great freedom for me came when I understood that we were never separate and that I was him and he was me. That huge love helped me not to be tossed away. In completing this book, I felt a willingness to step up to the plate. It was my time to stop clinging to myself, to take deeper vows. To take on this writing life, and the practice was for me to realize that I was capable of what I was capable of.”

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