(95) Solving the Right Problem

Here it is already, Day 95 of my one year blog focused on the five questions asked by Parker Palmer on his blog on New Years Eve, 2014.  The five questions have been a loose guide to keep me writing every day.  I have discovered there are many different ways to approach each of the questions, and I think so far it has been a worthy project.

This past week I had planned to spend a lot of time working on my fiction writing. But as I’ve looked back over the week, I see that I have explored and discovered some new things about my writing life. I was going to wait on doing a check-in on this blog until post 100, but then I read Parker Palmer’s blog today. He reflected on his writing life, and gave three pieces of advice from his experience:

1. Care more about the process than the outcome.

2. Be generous in order to maximize the chances of dumb luck.

3. Dive deep, dwell in the dark, and value beginner’s mind no matter how loudly your ego protests.

I firmly agree with each one of these. I have found all of them to be true over and over again — just this week! In addition, I referred back to my main writing mentor, Natalie Goldberg, for some sage advice on fresh writing and how writing is a “moment moving through us.” That last part in particular has been useful to me, as I realized I do not have to hang on to every piece of writing I have ever done. It moves through me, therefore it is there, and the experience lives in me, waiting to be mined at any time.

I also found that I was open to “creative exploring,” which brought me to my favorite post this week where I compared singer/songwriter Carole King with author Jacqueline Woodson. I want to do more of this kind of writing. Seems these connections are always making themselves known to me — I just don’t always set aside the time to verbalize them. Synthesizing is a favorite activity of mine, and I’m going to give it a bigger place in my life.

And last, I have been re-inspired this week by Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind, especially the 20-10 Test. I wrote my answers to the questions posed in my blog yesterday and here is what I discovered:

If I suddenly had 20 million dollars, I would not keep teaching in the school district. I would find another way to use my knowledge as an educator.

If I didn’t have the 20 million, but knew I only had 10 years to live, I would keep teaching, and for probably the same amount of time I plan on doing now.  However, I would be less afraid and more willing to be the teacher I truly am. I would step away from the distracters in my life and focus on writing, making music, practicing meditation and yoga, being in nature, and spending time with family and friends.  I am successful at these things in fits and starts. I would want it to become more habitual.

So, isn’t that doable?  It sure is. Gotta start somewhere.

For the coming week, my Creative Whack Pack message is “Solve the Right Problem.”  I think doing the 20-10 Test has helped me see just where the “problem” lies.  It isn’t about not living the life I want — I think I am doing that. It is more about tweaking it for my best use of energy and emotion. That I can do. Starting today. After all, I have lived long enough to know that April 5, 2025 is closer than it sounds.

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