Writing… about not writing…

Words, ideas, concepts… I live for them. Really, I do. It’s even built into the core of the meaning of my name. I have been a writer all of my life, and I do relish the times when I am able to sit down with virtual pen and paper, and let the words flow.

Lately, though I would sit down, preparing to write anything, and feel almost sick: anxious, frustrated, and couldn’t get away from the keyboard fast enough. Let me do anything except write. That brings its own set of frustrations and guilt complexes, causing the spiral into not writing to go faster and faster.

I have heard it said that if you call yourself a leader, but no one is following, you are merely taking a walk. That mindset was starting to permeate my thinking as a writer… maybe I am not a writer because I am obviously not writing. But that is no doubt an over exaggeration of the former principle. Still, it is easy to get to those conclusions, especially when you seem to be living with an aversion to writing.

There is a popular story about a man wandering in the desert, dehydrated and with no water. He comes upon a shack, and at the shack stood two things: a pump, and a jug of water. On the pump was a note: Do not drink the water in the jug. Use it to prime the pump. Then you will have all the water you want. After you are done, fill up the jug for the next traveler. If you drink it, no one else will be able to get any water.

The man struggled with the thoughts of his thirst and the instructions. How could he trust the note? How does he know it would work? After wrestling with it for a while, he decided to follow the directions and emptied the contents of the jug onto the pump, and began working the handle. Nothing… nothing and then when all hope was about lost, something started coming out of the pump. Water! Life giving water was now gushing out of the spout, enough to satisfy him and fill up the jug for the next.

It feels like writing about not writing is priming my pump… I am emptying it all on what my instructions say will yield enough for now and prepare me for the next time I come to this place. I am looking forward to that yield.

A few days ago, I sent a note to my daughter, Imani who is about to embark on a wonderful journey, moving to Rome, Italy. In it I said, “I am in awe of, not what you have accomplished, but of how many people you have opened doors for, developed, inspired… how they are where they are because of you”. She primed the pump of teaching, vision, ability years before she ever knew what was really in her, and now there are dozens if not hundreds of people who have launched into their own dreams because of Imani’s influence. She primed the pump, satisfied her need, and filled up the jug for others.

For me, it is writing. For you it may be working out, or starting a new venture, or saying “I love you” more often. The thing that is in your heart to do, that fear, anxiety, discomfort or whatever cause you to run from. I tell you to prime the pump, and trust that what is underneath truly is a sea of wonder that will satisfy you and those around you both now and for years to come.

Finally, as I consider the wealth of things that continue to swim around in my consciousness, this quote from Lao Tzu comes to mind:

千里之行, 始於足下 – A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step (literally, a journey of a 

thousand miles starts beneath one’s feet)

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