Tuesday, February 9, 2010
For weeks,I've been struggling over a particular scene in my story. The dialogue's fun, but not necessary. The attitudes of the characters don't feel right. The action is not all that it can be. Fueling this struggle is the thought that I haven't been able to race ahead on schedule and turn in pages to my co-author for review. It's been days and days of writing misery.
Until yesterday, when I started a new practice: Moments of Gratitude. This practice was inspired in part by the talented writer and therapist, Beth Proudfoot, who wrote an amazing speech on filling your cup. It was also inspired by David Khorram, author of World Peace, a Blind Wife, and Gecko Tails.David, an eye surgeon who turned down offers awaiting him in America's leading medical centers to live and make a difference on Saipan, compiled the editorials he'd written for the local newspaper.
He has more to talk about than eyes, though. He shares stories about life: life on the island (communication mishaps, island celebrations, fireworks horrors) and life which can apply to us all. His vignettes about gratitude, acceptance, encouragement and change were funny, uplifting and inspirational.
I was so inspired that I tried an exercise he practices with his children: moments of gratitude. The purpose of this is to spend a few moments being grateful for all that is (rather than is not). In our case it went something like this:
"What are you guys feeling grateful for this morning?" I opened the car door.
"Shotgun!" My daughter, raced to the passenger seat, jumped in and slammed her door.
"I wanted to sit in the front." My son harumphed his way into the back. "How come she always gets the front? Can you turn on the radio?"
"No." I forged ahead. "Let's be quiet. Just for a moment. Let's think of things we feel grateful for."
"I can't think of anything," My daughter said. "Can I have a friend over after school?"
"Oh, there must be something." I urged.
"I don't know." My daughter sighed. "I feel grateful for music."
"So do I," My son agreed. "Now can you turn the radio on?"
Needless to say, it wasn't the uplifting outpouring of souls I envisioned. But the two siblings--always in rivalry--found a point of agreement. That's a start....for which I was grateful.
Just as uplifting was my moment at the end of my writing day. Rather than focusing on what I hadn't done--I'm still way behind my self-imposed schedule--I celebrated what was. I finished three pages of that scene, I told myself. I finished them! I finished them!
I felt higher than a kite.