Tuesday, October 25, 2011

the story inscribed upon your heart

It's a sweet break, the time I take out of the middle of Mondays to attend, by phone, Writing Your Practice.  It isn't easy, in my new wage-slave status, to block the time, but I've been successful so far three of the four classes, successfully slipping out the door, driving the three blocks to the shop where an empty office awaits me.  I love being there, sitting at a folding table on a too-tall stool scavenged from downstairs, listening to Susanna tell whatever stories are the theme that week, listening to my classmates read their work, and, of course, writing.

This week was about Hanuman, about that which is of most value.  As Susanna told the familiar story of Hanuman biting Sita's necklace, tears poured down my face.  The people assembled are shocked.  How is it that Hanuman is destroying this most precious necklace that Sita has bestowed upon him?  How disrespectful of that little monkey!  But Hanuman has no regard for the so-called value of the gems.  He searches within them, biting them to pieces with his sharp monkey teeth, looking inside each for Rama and Sita since that it is all that could make them valuable to him.  The crowd is incredulous.  Who could be that faithful?  In response, Hanuman tears open his chest and such is his devotion that, indeed, there upon his heart are the images of Rama and Sita.

What is inscribed upon YOUR heart?

This became the focus of our work yesterday.  This will be the focus of my writing for the next two weeks.

One of the exercises on our call yesterday was to make a quick list of ten things we're passionate about.  This kind of exercise is easy for me, since I am a chronic (OCD) list maker, constantly degenerating conversations into occasions to interview people and write down what makes them tick.  My list started out relatively neat, 15 items long.  And then it started to grow, to expand to the right, filling up the remaining empty space on the page as I started to dig into each item and think about it more.  And the items began to arrange themselves into a hierarchy. Where before I was passionate about individual things (dogs, books, Joe), then they began to clump under larger headings, like a weird sort of phylogenetic or evolutionary tree.  I'm still working on the drawing, and am finding it enormously helpful to understanding what I am and should be doing with myself.

What became clear as items began to arrange themselves on the page is that I'm super-passionate about Stories.  Because I love stories so much, have always loved them, will always love them, I am who I am and I am passionate about all the other things under that heading.  This is why I love books, this is why I love philosophy, this is why I loved catechism as a child, this is why I love yoga and movies and good tv.  This is also why I love people, since my monkey teeth like to get them open, to see what's inscribed on the inside, what is the story traced on their hearts.  And this is why I write, because I love to tell a story, to be inside the story in its making, to feel it all around me taking form.

Being clear about this doesn't matter, I suppose, except that it makes me super-happy.  Just knowing what's marked on the surface of my own heart, I feel at ease in my monkey skin.

For the next two weeks, lots of stories.  This course is doing great things for me.  It's helping me get really clear about my own desires and where I'm taking them.  And it's making me Hanuman-happy, deeply content inside my devotion to story, keeping company with what is, to me, of most value.


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