Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Strange Times

These are strange times, here at "The Buddha Diaries." My entries, as you will have noticed, have been unusually irregular these past couple of weeks: there was that unanticipated deadline for a catalogue text, followed shortly by the trip up north to Portland and Seattle. But those are poor excuses. There was a time when neither rain nor shine nor travel to foreign parts would keep me from my daily entries, unless I found myself in some part of the world where I could simply not get online. No, there's something deeper and more puzzling going on--an absence of that motivation that normally keeps me going, no matter where I am or what else is going on.

I think a part of it is that my writing mojo has shifted to other projects. I have another catalogue text due next week and, more challenging, I now have a new book in mind. I woke on the last day of my speaking tour up north with the realization that, while each of my talks is geared to a different audience, there are common threads that run through all of them. Given the enthusiastic response from audiences of all kinds, I know that I have something to say that many people hunger for--and also that it's something more than what I covered in my essays in "Persist." I was up at 3:30 that morning--sleepless in Seattle!--so excited by the ideas that came flooding in that I had to note a few of them down and, indeed, to begin to find the words.

It's finding those beginning words that always leads me to the understanding of what it is I need to say, and for this reason it's important to me to scribble them down when they come into my head. They flow in sequences that I'm unable to reproduce by memory alone, and they give me the edge I need, the first thread. I begin to pull at it and the whole text starts to unravel. It's the unraveling process that engages me, sometimes to the point of obsession, where I can think of nothing else.

So here I am, embarked, in my writing head at least, on something other than "The Buddha Diaries." And yet I do feel a commitment to these pages. Not only a commitment, a sense of gratitude that brings with it a kind of obligation. I'm grateful for the practice the blog has helped me shape, and particularly grateful for the readership. It astounds me that my page views total over a hundred and fifty thousand, and that my hits come in at more than double that rate. This is something I have come to value more than I can say, because I don't write, as some claim, "for myself." I write to be read. Indeed, for me, the very act of writing implies a reader. It makes no sense otherwise.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I'm allowing myself to be more erratic in my entries than I have been in the past. It feels like a risk--and risks, in my experience, no matter how daunting they feel, have a way of paying off. The bigger the risk, the greater the payoff. This may seem like small potatoes to some. To me it feels like a big one. And, who knows, my addiction might still get the better of me. See you around!

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