January 07, 2010

Less is More

I think I shall not write so much. I’ve been writing without anything to say. It’s like jogging on a treadmill. I’m just doing it to keep in shape, half out of habit and half out of some vague notion that eventually the monkey will punch out Shakespeare.

I’ve been here too long. I’ve been doing the same thing, lived in the same house, studied the same subjects for too long. It’s been brilliant, but so little (and so much) has changed. I’m writing about the same things. I’m still busy. I’m still lonely sometimes. I’m still stubborn. I still wish I had more time to take more classes because there are so many interesting things left to study. I still love living alone, good coffee, my cat, and bad novels.

I feel like I’ve lost much of my source material as I’ve focused on simply finishing my thesis project, graduating, and moving on. I’m not sitting. That’s not new. But I’m not reading the dharma either, aside from bits and pieces from a few of the blogs I read. I have a small stack of dharma books I’ve not touched and I’ve let my magazine subscriptions lapse. The dharma, my thoughts on it, and practice of it are naturally interrelated to so many of the other activities I’ve given up, including my seat on the student senate and my work with various registered student groups. Most of my ‘better’ writing goes into my columns. I haven’t been out to the mountains, or on any retreat, in well over a year.

Some things have changed. I’ve developed a taste for Irish whiskey. I’ve made a major change in my life course. I’ve lost friends and gained lovers, lost family and gained teachers. So on and so forth. Marilyn died. My dog died. My grandmother and great-grandmother died. My cousin and my brother got married. I’ve had some wonderful jobs, been to great new cities. I got more patient (I hope) and learned how to relate to others better (I also hope). I learned to ride. I forgot how to speak whatever Japanese I ever learned.

But I digress. I find myself doing that too often, falling into the rhythm of tapping keys. It’s a rather comforting rhythm. Familiar. Productive. Deceptive. I remember a rhyme from my childhood. “There was an old owl who lived in an oak. The more he listened the less he spoke. The less he spoke the more he heard. Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?”

So I think I shall write less and listen more.


Anonymous said...


"john francis walks the earth"
spent 17 years not talking, and not riding in cars, buses, planes, etc, but only walking.


Lynette Genju said...

what are you hearing?


Monica said...

Right now, the front end loader that clears snow from the lot next door. Woke me up from a perfectly good nap. It scrapes the ground, then backs up with a 100-decibel "Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!" I much prefer the flock of crows that visited here yesterday. They were loud too, but at least interesting to watch.