Monday, June 24, 2019

Stopping to Start

The Neuropathway Not Taken
34x46in Jude Spacks  (available)

My neighbor the rapid Buddhist was already whizzing away after our chat, when she called back over her shoulder, "I'd like to start writing again, myself--but I never seem to get to it. Sometime, maybe you could tell me what to do?"

I answered briskly, "How 'bout this? Every day for a week, write for 10 minutes and then stop."

She scooted back towards me, shaking her head. "Oh, no, no, no.  I have to write at least a page...that's what I used to do. It takes longer than 10 minutes."

"Well, fine, but I hear you haven't been writing that page lately. Why not try 10 minutes, or, say, 3 sentences, then stop? Later you can do more--you'll want to. But first practice the stopping. That's a good place to start."

There wasn't time to elaborate--about how this way she could play with stopping her habit of Not-Writing (briefly) followed by StoppingWriting (til the next day--to make the writing no biggie, with no expectations). The combo might warm her up by shifting the can't-get-to-it pattern she was locked into and reminding her of her real freedom to write or not.

She looked intrigued. As she hustled away, she said, "I can always use practice stopping!" (Later she told me she'd been able to get back to writing her page-a-day after our conversation).

Most of us can use practice stopping, or even imagining stopping, especially when there's some resistance to starting something.

Start small. Even smaller. Start by stopping. Stop pushing to prove anything. Stop pretending that you're not ok already, whether you do the thing or not. Stop waiting for a bigger spark of inspiration and go with this next, humble, present possibility.

Dish it out, whatever it is, and take it, (all for you!) with the smile of a willing waitress serving your plate, saying, 'Enjoy!'