It is quiet in these early morning hours and I just want to live in the pause and savor them. Of course, part of me is quite ready to return to bed, having arisen too early for adequate rest. This morning, I am feeling a bit nostalgic, remembering when I was eighteen and purchased the book, A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’engle. I loved it enough to purchase multiple copies to share and although I have replaced my copy of the book with the Crosswicks Journal set (which consisted of three volumes when I bought it, though I see now it has grown to four), I haven’t reread it in years, nor have I ever managed to get around to any of the other volumes. I continue to be challenged by books I don’t own electronically.
The book shaped me. It deepened my love for writing. It molded my ideas of what a marriage should look like (important for my young unmarried self). It likely helped me fall in love with New England and ignited a desire to garden. Other books would shape me later, but this was one of the first important ones. I may have to purchase it electronically. These days, I don’t have the luxury of afternoons lounging in bed reading. Rarely am I snuggled in during daylight hours when books on the printed page can be savored.
The clock ticks. I find that I have once again wasted these precious hours because I fell down a rabbit hole of nostalgia and forgot to climb back out. I am all too aware that the later it gets, the harder it is to focus on these indulgences. I have work to do and I have failed to devote my writing hours to disciplined effort. The irony is that my intended focus this morning was on the value of training, which we discussed in our Tuesday night ACIM group last night.
Today’s Course lesson is I am not the victim of the world I see. It is a lesson without deep insight, it is pure practice. It’s about training. In this declaration of independence, we are putting aside judgment and just doing the work. The Course is totally uninterested in trying to make us like the training. The introduction to the workbook says, “Some of the ideas the workbook presents you will find hard to believe, and others may seem to be quite startling. This does not matter. You are merely asked to apply the ideas as you are directed to do. You are not asked to judge them at all. You are asked only to use them. It is their use that will give them meaning to you, and will show you that they are true.” The longer I practice, the more I notice that mood has nothing to do with it. The Course is, as it says, “is a course in mind training.” So much of making progress is learning to ignore the ego’s desires and simply doing what needs to be done.
As Mel Robbins, author of The 5 Second Rule says, “You’re never going to feel like it.” She also says, “If you only ever did the things you don’t want to do, you’d have everything you’ve ever wanted.”
This is why training is so important. When I arose this morning and started my exercise, I didn’t feel like doing it. I didn’t want to exercise. It was painful this morning (psychically speaking). I had to push. But what I like it the feeling that my legs are becoming more muscular. What I like is that my balance is better. My (not claiming!) varicose veins are becoming less painful.
“Waiting for inspiration to write is like standing at the airport waiting for a train,” said Leigh Michaels, who is a prolific romance novel writer. I appreciate that likely few of my readers write, but the principle is the same no matter what creative endeavor you are attempting – progress comes not from inspiration so much as from routine. I write on my laptop, because it is too labor intense to try to transpose handwritten anything, especially considering my poor penmanship. Writing on my laptop comes with a liability because it is exceedingly easy to get distracted. This morning, I read this quote, “What information consumes is rather obvious; it consumer the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” That quote is from Herbert Simon and was written in 1971, long before the deluge of electronic distractions became the norm.
Ego wants to beat me up. These are the sort of posts that never see the light of day. Garbage posts.
“You can’t TRY to do things,” says Ray Bradbury (author of another very influential book I love, Dandelion Wine), “you must simple DO them.” I just found I can get this electronically from the library and so I have.
Yet another distraction.
What I know is that all this training – no matter how poorly done, no matter whether I had to fight myself the whole way or whether it was easy – counts. It matters. It makes a difference to the grand scheme of things. My legs don’t care if I had a hard time exercising this morning or not. The discipline of writing is sometimes more important than the content and beyond that, I have no ability to properly assess the quality of anything.
One of my favorite Course quotes says, “Some of your greatest advances you have judged as failures, and some of your deepest retreats you have evaluated as success.”
I do not know what anything is for, says Lesson 25. It goes on to say, “It is crucial to your learning to be willing to give up the goals you have established for everything. The recognition that they are meaningless, rather than ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ is the only way to accomplish this.”
My goals are meaningless!
I don’t have to enjoy the training, it’s just easier when I do. My part in God’s plan is only willingness. My part is the willingness to give up judgment. The desire to judge can remain in the background. That is not important. As Robbins says, “You can’t control how you feel. But you can always choose how you act.” When I am willing to surrender, I can get to where ego tells me I don’t feel like going.
“The giving up of judgment, the obvious prerequisite for hearing God’s Voice, is usually a fairly slow process, not because it is difficult, but because it is apt to be perceived as personally insulting. The world’s training is directed toward achieving a goal in direct opposition to that of our curriculum. The world trains for reliance on one’s judgment as the criterion for maturity and strength. Our curriculum trains for the relinquishment of judgment as the necessary condition of salvation.”
So I continue to train. Badly, at times, but that doesn’t matter. Robbins says, “There’s one thing that is guaranteed to increase your feelings of control over your life: a bias toward action.” Ego likes control so if I just train the bastard to act despite not wanting to, then I am halfway there.
Namaste, my friends, Namaste.