... hangs on obstinately. Okay, it's better. Much better. It has degenerated now into this nasty little tickle in the throat that keeps me coughing incessantly. Very irritating. This morning it was so persistent that I had to interrupt my meditation and go find a cough drop--whose slow process of melting in the mouth proved an interesting point of focus for the wandering mind. I guess we've all heard that old "false friends" translation from the French "Voici l'anglais avec son sang-froid habituel:" Here comes the Englishman with his usual bloody cold. Well, you have to know a little French to get the joke.
Yesterday was a clean-out day. I put the finishing touches on the travel log, got that posted in the sidebar to The Buddha Diaries, and sent out a few preliminary notifications to fellow-travelers from the trip. Done. I sorted through all the papers left in piles around my study, filing, paying bills where necessary, clearing the decks. Done. I went out for a haircut, much needed after a month of inattention. Done. Got the car washed. Done. That kind of a day. In preparation, this week, for an early departure for Laguna Beach where I'll be doing a public reading of extracts from The Real Bush Diaries and, likely, too, from The Buddha Diaries for the Laguna Beach Democratic Club. This morning I need to get myself prepared by picking out some appropriate passages and deciding on an outline.
I actually love to read and I'm good at it, though I still get nervous about it in advance. My English accent stands me in good stead over here, where it still sounds a bit, er, distinguished. So I'm told. But reading is intensely satisfying because there's a tangible relationship with the audience: for a writer, used to hearing his words as a kind of echo in the head, it's nice to feel them going out and reaching someone else's ear, and sinking in. As is readership itself, it's a natural and essential part of the writing process. I've always thought that this business of "writing for oneself" is nonsense. I write only to be read, or heard--no matter how small the audience.
So I'm looking forward to tonight, with perhaps some special edge of anxiety about doing it well because there will be friends, I hope, out there in the audience. I need to put my best foot forward. Or rather, to be in my best voice, and I'm worried that this cough could prove an obstacle. In meditation this morning, before succumbing to the cough drop, I spent a good while trying to use the breath to relax the throat around the source of irritation--with, as you know, a notable lack of success. Note to self: Need better concentration, more skillful ability to relax. If that's not a contradiction. No, actually, try it. The two can work together.