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.