Sunday, December 21, 2014

Trendy Globe-Trotting Me, Spiritual Hodge-Podgery, A Time to Expand

An ad for rosewater shortbread (which sounds disgusting) showed up on my G-mail account a few days ago. I have no idea why Google thinks I have any interest in rosewater shortbread, but it made me curious, so I starting clicking “refresh” just to see what other ads it would bring up. In quick succession, it was:

What the Biggest Hedgefund has Been Buying
LA. As a Pedestrian
Cultured Traveler: Thailand’s ‘Gong Highway’
How Caroline Doubled Her Salary By Changing Her Brand

So Google thinks I’m a trendy-dessert-baking, globe-trotting stock tycoon with business ambitions to "brand" myself. Hmm.

I was listening to Krishna Das on Duncan Trussell’s podcast a few days, talking about his chanting and his spiritual practice. I realized while listening to him that I don’t have a spiritual practice because I don’t like the word “practice”.  It feels like work. And of course, it is work. Some would say it is the only work. It’s appropriate that spiritual development be work. But the word feels exacting, stern, and exhausting, and I’m exhausted enough already. I have an especially a hard time with Eastern-based spiritual practices.  In some ways I’m drawn to them, and in others ways, I find them too ascetic, too cold and detached. Is there is spiritual practice for people like me, who are naturally lazy and pleasure-seeking? Could we invent something called a "playtice"? I’ve explored a number of spiritual paths but eventually found all of them to be overly complicated, fraught, and ultimately slightly silly, even Wicca. (I love the idea of Wicca, but I can't abide the ritual involved in the actual practice of it.) 

Just like that line from "The Star Splitter"—“We've looked and looked, but after all, where are we?" I've looked and looked for a spiritual practice that clicks for me, but I have yet to land on one. And maybe I wasn't meant to. Maybe I’m meant to just rattle around in some weird, one-off bargain bin of spiritual hodge-podgery, never fully settling on a form, because my spiritual self is simply not going to be able to conform to any one set system. This makes me a little sad, because I recognize the value in ritual, the value in abiding by a set of principles, and the value in discipline. I have a great deal of discipline when it comes to my job, and some when it comes to my creative life, but the idea of being spiritually disciplined makes me feel gray and deflated. I don't want to work at it. I just want to be happy and at peace right here, right now, and not to have to lift a finger for it.

On a slightly less entitled note, I have decided to stop avoiding the second edit of my novel and just tear in. Once I started, I realized that the issues that were looming in my mind as insurmountable, impossibly complex problems aren’t really all that big of a deal to fix. At least, the two that I’ve tackled so far weren’t. I still have the last 75 pages to contend with, which isn’t going to be fun. Coming from having written poetry and short stories for so long, it’s really hard to get my mind around the sheer spaciousness that a novel allows me. In my obsession with keeping the book to a pre-set word count, I sort of…shall we say, overly-compressed some things near the end. I’m going to have to expand it. Maybe while I’m at it, it’s time to expand in some other areas as well. And I’ll start with a deep, full breath. 

--Kristen McHenry


Steven Cain said...

Seriously. You would think, of all things that should come free and easy, peace would be on top of that list. Now that I've said that, I remember Osho saying that we are born in/with perfect peace... it's Life that stuffs us full of all the unwanted crap. Or something like that. It's an undoing thing, anyway, I think his point was. Still a great deal of dedication.

Kristen McHenry said...

I know what you mean, Steven. I understand that Osho was a bit of a trouble maker and possibly a scam artist of sorts, but I've always really liked him. I've used the Osho Tarot for years, and I love it. It's very philosophical, but also very grounded in human experience. I think he's right, that we are born with perfect peace, and we forget. Maybe living is just the process of learning to remember that again.

Jo-Ann said...

I hear you, Ms Typist, re: spiritual practice. However, I just read a very simple but fascinating book by Anita Moorjani "Dying to be Me". Highly recommend it. Her form of spiritual practice (one formed after a NDE)is to just be herself.

Kristen McHenry said...

Thanks for letting me know about the book, Jo-ann! I will check it out. I love reading about NDE's. I hope you are well! I will get in touch with a more personal e-mail after the holidays.