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Archive for the ‘Mindless Ramblings’ Category

The Joy of Completion

Back in November I started writing a novel. It was based off a story that I’d been thinking about since 2009. I decided to participate in National Novel Writer’s Month with the goal of writing 50,000 words in a month. I surpassed that goal and ended up at 60,083 words and had the majority of the story written. It wasn’t finished, though, so I kept going. I took a lot of December off but got back into the swing of things and finished it the other night with a word count of 91,911 words. The story is 253 pages long and I’m actually happy with the way it turned out.

Throughout the process of writing, it always amazed me how if often felt like meditation. There were occasions where my mind was completely focused on writing and the words flowed out of my mind and onto the screen while I got to read them for the first time as the story wrote itself in front of me. The experience of maintaining a singular focus and putting aside distracting thoughts—and consequently losing ones sense of self-as-separate being from the universe—that I experienced while writing is only comparable to what I have found in meditation.

Writing, like meditation, is most rewarding when done daily. Both are practices that take few resources to do and both require a concerted effort and commitment to do them. While I go into the task of writing with a goal in mind, I find that I make the best progress on it when I don’t grasp at the goal or focus on it to the exclusion of the actual job of writing. When one sits down to write, the mind is distracted and wanders and must be brought gently back to the task at hand. Consistently returning to the same place, the same task, the same focus, strengthens the mind over time and one begins to have less distractions and fewer interruptions and the act of writing becomes more organic and enjoyable. Just like with meditation.

I find that writing also inspires a desire to do more writing, just as meditation inspires me to meditate further. Completing a novel has been such a rewarding experience that I’m already planning the next one and will start it as part of Camp NaNoWriMo next month. I’m only planning 30,000 words this time though because I foresee this as being a very busy month but I think it’s an attainable goal.

If you’re interested, more information can be found about Camp NaNoWriMo and my next book by clicking the image below. Full disclosure, this will take you to a sponsorship page.

badge-sponsored

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Surprises

You know that feeling you get when you’re thinking about characters for your next novel and you suddenly get a flash of inspiration for how two characters are connected that you would never have thought of on your own (though you obviously just did)? I love that feeling.

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2012, I would like to say goodbye. We had a lot of ups and downs and I’ll always remember you and not always fondly. Some of the highest highs and lowest lows in one twelve month package, tied together like a nightmarish set of stacking dolls. The five skandhas might be empty but I feel each of them, heaped on me, their weight adding to my own. We may not have had the best relationship, but it’s over now and there’s nothing left but to pick up the pieces and move on. And so, I move on to 2013, no promise the next twelve months will be different—but still, strangely, full of hope. I will remember the good of the past and put the rest behind me, each scar a lesson of the pitfalls that might be ahead.

I accomplished what was, at your beginning, an unthinkable task: 70,000 words written across 200 pages in just 2 months. The work on the book is not complete but it is close.

My weight reached a level I had never seen, but I overcame it. Thirty five pounds in six months is a good start, and I will always remember what I saw on your final cold and snowy day: the only day of the year this scale started with a 2.

New Year Scale

I faced my demons and, in your closing, gained valuable insight into the ways they conspire to hold me down and keep me away from my best interests. I enter 2013 with the hope to conquer them before its close.

The future does not exist, the past is lost and the present moment is fleeting. There are an infinite number of present moments in 2013 and I strive to be aware of them all. It’s an impossible goal, but sometimes the goal isn’t what’s important: it’s the striving that matters.

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I had been planning on writing more posts here but a funny thing happened on the way to the blog. I was challenged by a friend to participate in NaNoWriMo. For those of you unaware of this event, it is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It seemed impossible, but I buckled down, spent time thinking about what I wanted to write and started make it happen. Today, I passed the 50,000 word mark. I completed it in 20 days and the surge of triumph has not worn off yet. I’m only 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through the story but I’m quite pleased with how well it has come out so far. Eventually, I’ll finish the story (I hope sometime by or in December) and then I’ll begin the editing/rewriting process. Maybe sometime in 2013 I’ll be able to say that I’ve written a book.

On the weight loss front, things continue to go well. I’m down to 304 and still making positive choices and being mindful of what I am eating. I’ve been running into the same issues I had last time I was down to this weight: a lot of my clothes are too loose and I’m fitting into things once relegated to the back of the closet. These are good problems to have.

In other news, Thanksgiving is in two days and I’ve already decided that I am not going to fret  too much over what I eat. It’s one day and for that one day, I’m going to enjoy whatever I want. I feel like I have a strong enough handle on what, why and how I eat that I don’t have to worry about one day of eating with gusto. I have a lot to be thankful for this year.

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A Quick Question

I’ve noticed that, on my computer, a particular letter seems to not show up when I use it. It’s not a common letter so it should not really be missed that much. However, this letter is used more here than it would be in many cases because of the particular brand of Buddhism I blog about. I’m hoping that it’s just me experiencing this but I have to know, is it happening to you too? Can you see the final letter of the alphabet when I use it on this blog? If I write the word “Zen” do you see the first letter of that word or do you just see “en”? Please let me know if it is happening to you. If enough people can’t see the letter, I’ll have to find a different font to use for the blog.

the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPS OVER THE LAZY DOG.

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Mmmmm Spam

I love the spam filter that WordPress uses. If I let some of the garbage that pops up in the comments go through, you’d laugh your head off at it.  Just tonight I received a comment on a post from last week offering to show me how to hook up with nasty, dirty girls in my area. I’m still trying to figure out how my getting to know nasty, dirty girls in my area has to do with meditation and weight loss but maybe nasty, dirty girls are into fat balding guys with a penchent for meditative self analysis.

At least the comments offering me advice on weight loss surgery are slightly on topic. Sure they’re about 400 words a piece but I think that whoever is taking the time to write all of that information into a comment must care very much about weight loss surgery. If the sheer volume of words didn’t make it apparent that this is important information, the fact that they spent that much time trying to craft a message in a language that is obviously not their native tongue should really move me to approve them. But, I find myself sending them straight to the trash.

As much as I appreciate the offer of free generic Viagra without a prescription, I happen to know a few things about the drug industry and know that Viagra is a brand name with no generic equivalent. Plus obtaining it without a prescription would be breaking a few laws and I’m just not able to advocate that kind of behavior on this blog.

One of the things that this blog has allowed me to do is to connect with people from all over the world. I have readers from places like Australia. That’s on the other side of the world no matter how you measure it. It’s about as far away from Maine as you can get on this planet but my words still reach around to that far off place and I connect with people. Apparently, I also make some deep and meaningful connections with people in Russia and Eastern Europe. Why else would so many of my comments come from IP addresses and domain names registered in Russia and the Ukraine? I can’t let this go without an attempt to reach out to these important readers and so, a very special message to my Russian friends

Пожалуйста, не писать мне сообщения. Я не буду отправлять их на этом блоге.

Whatever the reason or the product or the motivation for attempting to clog my blog with digital detritus, I am thankful that I have a decent tool in place to catch this stuff and filter it out. If you ever feel the need to comment on a post here on dharmaloss or if you want to read the comments, I’m happy to report that there is no artificial canned meat products in the comment section. You’ll just find insightful and inspiring content graciously posted by people who actually want to have a conversation about the things that I put up here. For that I am grateful and encourage others to participate as much as they can.

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I have so many things to be thankful for. Even though I weigh more now than I did last Thanksgiving, I’m back on track and I’m making progress. A healthy lifestyle feels like it’s within reach again. I’ve gone through one of the darkest times in my life and been able to get through it. I am thankful for the newfound strength I have because of this.

I am thankful for all of the new friends I have made over the past few years since I moved to Maine. Moving a thousand miles from my home and family and friends was a difficult thing to do. It was another challenge that helped me to change and grow as a person.

I am thankful for my kids and the joy that they bring to my life. Their humor and energy and joy is contagious. I learn as much from my kids as they do from me. Being their dad is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

I am thankful for my practice and my sangha. I have found in my practice a real and practical way to address the challenges and struggles that life presents. I have made many new friends and am thankful for every one of them.

Speaking of being thankful, I’m thankful for the people who visit this blog. I was remembering a discussion I had a few years ago with a friend and he was encouraging me to start blogging. I actually told him that I wasn’t one of the kind of people with egos big enough to think that others may want to read about what I had for lunch. Now, I blog about what I ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Seriously, if you’re reading this, it makes me happy. And if you’re wondering, I had a big plate of bacon. It’s thanksgiving so I’m not worrying about it too much. Everything in moderation. I didn’t have anything else with it but a cup of coffee.

There are so many other blessings I have in my life that I lose track of them all. Sure, life is hard sometimes and there are things about it that I would like to change but when you add everything up, the good far outweighs the bad.

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