|The author, Dane F. Baylis|
1. I am a believer in the never ending process of learning. In that cause I would like to put out an invitation to poets living in the Ventura, California area. Wednesday nights, for the next five weeks, at 7 PM in Ventura at the Vita Art Center, 432 North Ventura Avenue, there will be an ongoing poetry workshop. This is a great opportunity to sharpen your craft and gather with other writers in the pursuit of excellence.
IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER
It Isn't About The Trip, Or The Destination, It's All About The Road You Travel.
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned along the way that, though a westerner born and bred, I am a practicing Shin Buddhist of the Pure Land School. Before any of you ask the obvious question, I haven't any real idea what enlightenment is or feels like, nor do I know the true meaning of life. Although I spend a lot of time in my office/studio, it's not a cave and I'm not a reclusive monk. Sorry.
Something I've learned in the study of eastern philosophy and beliefs that has left an indelible impression on my work and my life is that it isn't the final goal or destination we are headed toward that is most important. What is tantamount is the journey itself. Each step we make is the one we should be concentrating on the fullest, striving to set our foot on the best part of the path, so the trip is as smooth and effortless as possible while paying attention to the details that surround us.
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." This quote is attributed to Lao Tzu (also spelled as Lauzi) and is more accurately translated, "The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one's feet." In other words, the proper place to begin any endeavor is where you are RIGHT NOW!
I've talked to so many people, of all ages, backgrounds, and skill levels who say things such as, "as soon as I reach this point", or "this happens", or "I finish this, I'm going to try writing". They speak of it as if it were something that would require all their time and energy and involve the accumulation of some vague skill set. The true secret to writing is actually very difficult to comprehend. There are several steps, but perhaps the best summation I've encountered comes from Jeff Goins, who put it like this:
1. Sit down.
2. Place your fingers on the keys.
That simple. No huge mystery or arduous preparation. If you want to write, then write. Does this mean that you will be a New York Times best seller or Pulitzer Prize winner? Well, anything is possible. But the probability is a little low in this case I'm afraid.
The important part is that you have grasped the entire meaning of Lao Tzu's little homily. It isn't the goal you're after that's important. That may change for you or you may arrive at an entirely unexpected place. The important part is the journey. Setting one foot down...and then the next...and the next, until you arrive at whatever it is that awaits you. The place you begin is where you are when you set out. Before you take the first step, when you have made up your mind and set your heart to the journey, you are underway. From then on it is a matter of remaining mindful of all that is revealed to you along the way and being open to the lessons to be learned from other writers, from the world around us, and from the innermost places in our own hearts. Will it all be smooth and an even grade? One would hope not. Where's the adventure or learning in that? This isn't AmTrak we're talking about after all. All things worth accomplishing involve some level of struggle.
Meanwhile...live, love, write.
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Dane F. Baylis