|Matthaeus Merian, "The Creation of Man" (1625)
"Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." Genesis 2:7
Here's some good writing advice...
Start the day by writing for 30 minutes.
Sound familiar? It does to me, because I give myself this advice nearly every day. When I follow it, I do myself a favor. No matter what happens with the rest of my day, I have those 30 minutes.
But it's hard.
It's hard because I can easily convince myself that those 30 minutes will appear somewhere in my day. "There's plenty of time," I tell myself.
The minutes pile up, and the hours pass by as my day creeps closer and closer to a conclusion. Now it's decision time.
I can either 1) break a promise to myself; or 2) stop making excuses and just write.
To be completely honest, sometimes option 1 wins out. I never feel good about it. Most days, I can make those 30 minutes work. But I don't, and I regret it.
It's a regret that can be productive, when it causes me to to select option 2. I never finish writing and feel any sense of regret. Only gratitude, and a vague sense of accomplishment.
To write is to build a story, to assemble and develop an idea. It's frustrating and it exposes certain limits about my intellect and ability.
But the act of writing alone is life-affirming. Among other things, writing helps quiet my mind, and rediscover my breath.
Breathing. Yes, breathing.
It's where life begins--risen up from the dust and the clay, "the breath of life" is what makes us human.
To breathe deeply, intentionally, and mindfully is to reconnect with this primal truth.
It sounds simple, but all too often I forget my breath. When I lose touch with this basic function of my own humanity, my chest tightens, my back clenches, and my eyes squint.
Put another way, everything turns inward as the busyness threatens to overwhelms me.
But then, when I commit to those 30 minutes, everything opens up again. Indeed, that decision to just write reminds me also to just breathe.
And with that, I can end the day in a slightly better place.