Monday, July 29, 2019


I woke this morning with dreadful feelings of inadequacy, accusing myself, among other things, of half-heartedness. Everything I had done in my life, I was telling myself, I had done half-heartedly. I was focused primarily on the two things I have always felt to be the most important in my life: my writing, and my meditation practice.

Please don't rush to my defense. I need to work this out!

So far as the writing is concerned, I blame my half-heartedness for never having become the great and famous writer I judge I should have been. Forget the several books I have published. Forget the scores of articles and reviews in national magazines. Forget the many, many people who have told me, in a variety of ways, how much my writing has meant to them. Forget the lovely note I received just the other day from a distinguished artist telling me that my voice was a powerful and important one. Forget all that. None of it was good enough. As for my novels, I was no Kurt Vonnegut or Norman Mailer. And off-hand I could think of at least two dozen art critics who had contributed far more than me.

And meditation... half-hearted! Forget that I've been at it, daily, for more than twenty years. I never made the pilgrimage to India that so many of my contemporaries did. I never sat at the feet of a guru to receive his wisdom. I never spent three years--not even three months--in retreat. I have never made much more than a cursory study of the dharma. When I sit each morning, as I did this morning, my mind is a mess, so easily distracted still, not the clear, sparkling crystal it's supposed to be.

So these are the avenues my mind chose to walk down this morning. Useless to call them "false" when their reality presents itself to me so indisputably and with such seeming clarity. It's fortunate for me that I have learned, at least, that it's possible to "change the channel"--and to make the choice to do at least one thing whole-heartedly today. "Pour me prouver", as the poet Charles Baudelaire once wrote, "que je ne suis pas le dernier des hommes." In fact, as I read back over what I have written in the past few minutes, I have already done it!

As a footnote: it's interesting that these thoughts occur to me at a time when I am trying focus my attention in meditation, and bring it to rest... on the heart!

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