In the mid 80’s a friend had given me her first book “Writing Down the Bones”. Heather could see I had a dream of one day being a writer. The book was a sublime gift. It showed me in the four years we had known each other; she had listened to more than my words. She connected with a restless creative spirit in me and offered my muse a path to be followed. While I read and enjoyed the book, I was too focused on building a career and finding excitement in the material existence around me. The shiny white paperback came to rest on a bookshelf that has since then leaned against many walls. For years it moved with me, second shelf down on the left side, propped between the “The Elements of Style” and a dictionary.
In those years, a gentle awakening began as karmic seeds ripened. I floated through a series of experiences that led me from ‘myth’ to an interest in Buddhism. A favorite pastime of lingering amidst the stacks of local independent booksellers had advanced the library beyond what I was able to read. The contents of the bookshelf began to change while it swelled with new titles.
One rainy afternoon I was re-organizing the shelves to make room for some new books. A perceptible shift away from fantasy fiction and books on cinema, particularly Alfred Hitchcock. The new recruits, Joseph Campbell, Huston Smith, Chogyam Trungpa and Lama Surya Das were standing in a row and needed more room. It was the spine of Natalie Goldberg’s book that caught my eye. Shambhala. I was immediately curious what a Buddhist publisher was doing amongst my scant collection of writing books.
Natalie writes from a Zen Buddhist perspective. While my training to that point had been more on the Tibetan side, I had been curious but immune to this angle years earlier on my first read. Though I immediately recognized that it was another moment of serendipity, while not cognizant, these teachings had become part of me.
I devoured the book again, and was left hungry by a single concept. A writer writes. In the ensuing years that little voice would remind me, while writing a business letter, during the birth of email, training manuals, performance evaluation, it was all writing.