the circular runner

writing as a spiritual exercise

In humor, life, observations, writing on June 27, 2012 at 6:20 am

I can’t say I’m religious, though I hate saying that I’m spiritual because, A. that sounds lame and B. a lot of lame people say that and C. I like to think of myself as not being lame.

But here’s the thing: I write, and I think that writing, which I love and sometimes don’t, has something to do with what most people would call spiritual.

Years ago, many many years ago, I was a violinist.  Because I’m biologically unable to do things just for fun, I was a serious violinist.  VERY SERIOUS!!  TOO SERIOUS!!!!  Which meant I sucked.  True, that through shear force of will and discipline, I became good enough to gig for a couple a years in LA.  (I played pick-up orchestra gigs, weddings, and more Bar Mitzvahs than any other gentile I know, but I wasn’t really cut out to be a musician.  I loved the the craft; I loved locking myself in a room and sawing away, but I couldn’t translate that work onto the stage.  Still, all that practicing did leave a real effect on me.  I learned what it was like to be silent, truly so, and to be comfortable with that silence.

I might have taken that impulse a little too far.  I know I stopped being friends with most people from high school because as I got serious about being a violinist, I came to believe that I had been a fraud to them.  In the solitude of my practice room, I realized I wasn’t the clown I pretended to be.  I was quiet and shy.

OK, so what the hell does this have to do with writing and spirituality?

Fifteen years after quitting the violin, I find that I get the same joy from being alone with my thoughts when writing that I once did from my time practicing.  But the difference is that as a writer, I work alone in order to connect with others.  As anyone who writes knows, this back-and-forth between the deeply private time doing the writing and the hunger for connection with others is not easy.  Especially when writing fiction, I often struggle to get in the mindset needed to write.  Sometimes, it’s almost painful to start writing because of the hunger I feel for connecting with others.  But without the alone time, that time when I have to focus on the matter at hand,  the feelings of my characters, the craft of putting words to the page, I cannot feed the hunger I feel for connection.

Sometimes, most times, I fear this struggle.  I fear the hard work it entails, I’ll be honest.  But at a deeper sense, I also fear the silence that writing requires.  Or maybe it’s better to say, that I am in awe of the power of that silence, the way I have felt looking at a storm blow in or at a huge wave crashing against rocks.  That silence is powerful, humbling, and it’s vast, and even though I fear it, I want to be in touch with it.

Is that silence God?  I don’t know.  But I can say that the words I am using to describe my sense of it are pretty similar to the words that people from another time would have used for the divine.

That is a discipline, no one will argue.  But

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  1. I call it divine grace.. while I am not a religious person (to clarify, I do not agree with the way churches divide and try to conquer people when in reality it;s One Creator, on universe)..that being said that silence is my head and allowing slowing down enough to allow the divine grace room to settle and from there my words flow to paper…whatever it is called, never fear that silence..

  2. oops, typos galore..can I blame that on a 10 hour workday and blog reading with half dead eyes? 🙂

  3. […] writing as a spiritual exercise (circularrunning.wordpress.com) […]

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