“My gauge each day, in all things, is simply this: Is what I’m choosing (to think, do or say) moving me closer to my Creator or farther away? For this question, I am immensely thankful. It saves me an awful lot of backtracking, worry lines, frustration, angst and apologizing. Today and every day, I give thanks for my ability to exercise power of choice—even when I’ve chosen wrong.”
—Richard Wagamese in EMBERS: ONE OJIBWAY’S MEDITATIONS
Years ago I attended a writing workshop led by Richard Wagamese. His process, he told us, was to go for long walks in the hills and tell himself a story out loud as he climbed. When he returned home, he’d write it all down, letting the words pour unto the page. He’d write, he said, until he “started to think.”
When thoughts began to run through his head—”Is that the right word?” or “Should I take that part out?” or “This is the worst thing ever”—it was time to stop.
The words weren’t coming from Source anymore.
At the workshop he invited participants to give him a topic—any topic—so that he could tell us a story. Several times he received his subject, reflected only for a second or two, and then began to speak.
In a miraculous way, he opened himself up to become a channel for story. He surrendered to it. Story unfolded through him, complete and beautiful from beginning to end.
I think of this often, when my hands hover over laptop keys, uncertain. Or when those questions or comments start to circulate. “Does this word belong?” or “Is that part too long?” or “Am I wasting my time with this?”
I’m no Richard Wagamese, but I try to recreate what he showed to me that day, not only in writing, but in day-to-day life. For stories or for difficult decisions, I try to open, to surrender, and to allow the unfolding.
When I manage it, even a little, I’m surprised by how complete and beautiful it all turns out, from beginning to end.
And when I start to think, I stop.