Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Zen (Surfing) & Writing

I'm currently reading, Saltwater Buddha, by Jaimal Yogis. The book tells the tale of Mr. Yogis' life and his pursuit of waves (surfing) and Zen (Buddhism). Now, I am no surfer. While I love the ocean, at this point I have only stepped into the icy cold Pacific up to my knees, and, outside of moving my husband's surfboard, have never been on one. But I very much like this story, and I'm enjoying his journey from impetuous boy, watching the experiences and growth that turned him into a very well spoken man.

Part of what drew me to this book was the title - Saltwater Buddha - encapsulates two things I do love - the ocean and, well, Buddha. The other part was that my husband really loved it, and I like to think he has good taste. (He did marry me after all.) When I started down the path of yoga, it was with the intention to use the knowledge of those 8 limbs, and intertwine them with my previous obsession of Prince Siddhartha's path from royalty to chubby man sitting next to the river.

That is something I've never admitted to anyone - outside of my husband - until this second.

Now, here I am up to my eyeballs in agent bio's, query letters, synopsis, and beta reader notes. I practice yoga daily, and that's to say that I try to stay mindful of my emotions, as often as I can - and sometimes, I'm even able to take 20 minutes to do a few Sun As and Sun Bs. The same goes for Buddha and his tenets - I work at staying present, some days that easier than others. Right now I've been placing a lot of my focus on staying present, and on meditation, yoga, and keeping myself in check, because of the query trenches I am about to toss myself into. I do it so they eat me alive - like it almost did last time.

Right now, the part of Saltwater Buddha I'm reading is titled "Paddling Out" - whether you know a lot about surfing, or if you knowledge is limited to Endless Summer or, probably the better choice, Point Break - paddling out is the longest part of the process. Actual "surfing" (a.k.a. standing on a surfboard, balancing on the lip of a wave) can last somewhere between 5-30 seconds. SECONDS. Maybe longer if you're Laird Hamilton, and you're in the middle of the ocean riding 40 story waves. But the average is 5-30 seconds, hell, it may even be 1-30 seconds. As I'm sitting there reading this, in the back of my head the query questions are firing off (Is my list of agents appropriate to what I wrote? Who should I query first? Should I add so-n-so to the list, even though s/he may not be the best fit?) and the correlation between surfing, Buddhism, and writing become ever apparent to me.

I'm not overly religious, and to be honest, I don't call myself a Buddhist - because I'm not - but I find the lessons of Buddhism to be both encouraging and reassuring, but my "Anti-Religion Conformity" always wins out. But still - I fall back on realistic "zen" of life, and apply it to my life, and to my writing. Like, I know my struggles with becoming a published novelist, and what I want/expect out of those struggles are often the very things that hold me back and get in my way. As a (aspiring) novelist I am prone to flights of fancy - spinning yarns about some life I really don't have day in and out. This is normal, we all have the J.K. Rowling/Steven King uber fame dreams, but if we (I) want to live a writing life that is relatively stress free, we (I) need to accept my life as it is right now. (and not compare myself to other writers, no matter where they are on their path of writing enlightenment.)

I need to be grateful.

Do I own a mansion, have unlimited amounts of money, movie deals, books deals and a private jet? No.

Do I have a loving husband and son, a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food in my belly and a comfy bed to sleep in? Yes.

But most of all, would I appreciate that dream if it had just been handed to me?

I've seen what that looks like in every walk of life I've occupied, and I know that I wouldn't appreciate it.  I wouldn't appreciate success  if I didn't have to run this gambit - if I didn't have to paddle out into my life.

And that is the connection between Zen (Surfing) & Writing - it is knowing that all those late nights, hours of research, hours of missing out - all those parties, occasions, funny little happenings you missed - it's all the type-os, and (im)patiently waiting for beta readers to read your book and reply, the people (some family) who blew off your book, and wrote you off for a hack - it's all of that. Because when you finally get there, and you stand up for your 5, 15, 30 seconds - and the lip of the wave dips over your head - suddenly encasing you in a tube of water, just before it spits you back out into the ocean - it's worth it.

So remember, if you're struggling to achieve your dream, you're doing something and that's great. And yes, there will be crappy moments, some so hard you cry yourself to sleep - but it's just part of the process. You're just paddling out, and that is the biggest part of the journey.

Always remember - the grass is always the greenest where you water it.
Water your dreams, and keep paddling.

p.s. - and remember, sometimes as you wait for that big dream to come rolling in... you get to see dolphins.

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