Nine years ago today, I sent my first blog post out into the world. In those days, before moving to wordpress, I was posting at blogspot: http://inaspaciousplace.blogspot.ca/2008/08/new-blog.html

In that first post, I wrote about the creative process and the fear that often accompanies any attempt to create. I wrote:

The “blank canvas” is the most terrifying part of any creative process. You stand poised on the edge of an abyss. You look over into the vast empty space and ask yourself “Is there anything there?” “Do I have anything to say?” The longer you ask the question, the less you will create. The creative process starts with a single step in which you open yourself to the empty space and allow whatever is within you to flow out into that space.

I am tempted to give in to my fear. I am tempted to fill the empty space too quickly. It is hard to sit with the uncertainty and doubt of a “blank canvas.” Space is so threatening. Uncertainty makes me so uneasy. I am inclined to rush in with something, anything that will distract me from being in this uneasy place between the moment of facing the “blank canvas” and the moment when something begins to emerge. Sometimes the first step is terribly dramatic. Usually it is more ordinary. I start to type. I put a paintbrush into the first colour. I put my hands on the unformed lump of clay. The critical voice in my head falls silent for a second and a flow of light and life begins to emerge.

For nine years, almost every day, I have stepped into that “empty space” and started moving my fingers over the keyboard of my computer. Again and again, “the critical voice in my head” has fallen silent for a moment and there seems to have been something to say. Over nine years, at least one million three hundred and fifty-thousand words have poured forth in this tiny corner of the vast cosmos of the internet.

As I have taken a break from producing words over the past month, I have found myself wondering about the wisdom of returning to the discipline of banging away on this keyboard to fill the quiet stillness with yet more words. I am much less convinced today than I was nine years ago, of the value of words and the ideas they attempt to articulate. I believe that for most of us our time would be better spent in the discipline of silence rather than reading or producing yet more words.

I worry about my motivation for blogging. Do I post in an attempt to have an impact? Am I driven by a futile longing to make my life feel real and meaningful? Am I addicted to the little adrenaline hit that comes from going to my stats page and discovering how many people have accessed these words?

Like the Tibetan monks who produce elaborate sand mandalas only to have them swept up and thrown into the ocean, would I continue this daily discipline of blogging if I really understood that every word is eventually washed away in the great sea of forgetfulness?

I no longer believe that what I do gives meaning to my life and I am suspicious of any desire to “have an impact”. Life itself is its own meaning, regardless of anything I may or may not do, and any desire to influence others is a dangerous thing.

I do not need to justify my existence. I do not need to change you.

I need only to be here in this present moment feeling the wind on my skin, hearing the water bubbling in the fountain in our pond and the beat of wings as a sparrow lands in the bird bath beside our deck. There is nothing to prove here, nothing to earn, no need to justify my existence. It is enough.

Is there any motivation in this peaceful space for typing more words?

I do not presently know the answer to that question. But I trust that in the stillness, the right answer will eventually emerge.

Advertisements