Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Peaceful Mind

Neale Donald Walsch’s well-known book Conversations with God came highly recommended. It is the emotionally uplifting, autobiographical account of a man who falls into despair. At the end of his tether, he angrily scrawls the question “What does it take to make life work?” He hears the voice of God, and promptly writes a book about the dialogue that ensues. The book became an instant bestseller and the author, once homeless and penniless, was rewarded with seven figures by a large publishing house.

“From a peaceful mind do great ideas flow.” This is a quotation from Walsch’s book that hangs on the wall of my writing space. I placed it there to remind me to fall silent every once in a while, to turn off the incessant voice inside which tells me I should be doing something else, and to devote some time each day to my writing. Sometimes I take heed.

Just now, for example, I committed to myself to write the first part of a chapter for a book I’m working on for teachers. A page or so into my writing, my mind started wandering, and I found myself throwing a chew toy for the puppy, reading blogs of some my favorite authors, throwing the laundry in the dryer, practicing for a performance piece which is fast approaching. Anything but the job at hand. My mind wandered away from teachers and towards Neale Donald. Not what I had intended, but an idea nonetheless.

Walsch’s story is so much more than a rags to riches memoir. It is more than the inspirational tale of a man who has found a connection to his Source. It combines the beating of unfathomable odds, the discovery of the true artist within, the power of the human spirit, and the mystery of the Divine.

It is hard for me to buy in completely to the concept of a large hairy man being awakened in the night by a kindly voice responding to the question he had scribbled the evening before on a legal pad. However I can accept the idea that all of us, as human beings, have a deep sense of love and belonging within, a wisdom that we have carried with us through the ages. If only we can train ourselves to sit still long enough to listen to it, we will be wiser and more connected to the Universe. Perhaps that is my current definition of God. I do believe that there is something more to our own creation than pure biological happenstance and that we continue to carry with us that same creative force.

There are many writers, artists of all kinds, who claim to be simple conduits for the creative voice inside of them, the voice which bursts forth with little or no effort from the artist. I have a friend, a songwriter, who, like Neale Donald Walsch, tells me that her music is not hers. It comes to her from a place within that is separate from her. An oxymoron, I realize, but I think I know what she means.

And that is why Walsch’ quotation is by my writing desk. Perhaps they are his words, or maybe they came to him from someone else, the benevolent voice in the darkness. But they serve as a constant reminder to me that my artistry is within me. I just have to be quiet long enough to let it out.

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