Julia Cameron talks about a lovely idea in her book, The Artist’s Way, about “flora and fauna reports” that she would get as letters from her grandmother. They were remarkable for two reasons: first, they came so frequently and for such a long duration; second, because they were so in-the-moment as to be Zen koans.
Today, I needed that idea. The alarm went off at 0500 and I did not want to get out of bed. For one thing, it was, well, 0500. Duh. For another, the weather has turned nasty, which in an of itself isn’t a surprise because it’s Winter. In Chicago. For another thing, I didn’t get up early yesterday because I needed the sleep. My body’s probably fighting off the cold that my coworker brought to the office. But really, it’s because getting up takes escape velocity.
I’ve said it before: big goals don’t work. We set them and then get stuck trying to be perfect, trip, fall, and stay down. This only makes us feel worse about ourselves and our big goal – which, after all, was meant to make us feel better about ourselves, not worse. This time of year, I see a lot of setting of resolutions, goals big and small, and I feel the competitive push to join in the dash toward personal betterment.
But this I’ve learned: novels aren’t written overnight. Morning pages keep me sane. And now, I’m endeavoring to make “going to the gym” as regular as morning pages are – which means, daily. Just go. Show up at the page. Show up at the gym. Don’t have expectations about outcome. Focus on the journey. Turn off the inflow if the inflow doesn’t help you get onto the page, to the gym, or whatever your target is. Be a friend of your future self. Stephen Covey said, “Exercise integrity in the moment of choice.” So, for today, I got up at 0500. I went to the gym. I will write my morning pages.
For today’s Walking In This World, I leave you with my favorite Zen Koan: