The official name of the playwriting contest won by Catya McMullen is The Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival. I wrote about her good news in the previous post “Go Forth and Follow Your Good (News).” More good news, anyone? Please send. It beats watching the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.
I am sure that the weather-people and journalists are having a field day with the hurricane and storm metaphors. Their angle on Hurricane Sandy is probably different than mine or yours. This peculiar “perfect storm” affords a real opportunity for enforced indoor or internal time. Well, I did go out Monday morning for a leisurely haircut, but skipped the long lines at local food stores, like Barzini’s, and came home to miso soup, floor mat yoga, and my favorite magazines.
Staying in, knowing there is nowhere to go or way to get there, made me realize how many activities are not really essential. Life could be greatly simplified without the excuse of a storm. So why don’t we take these days off, or in, on a more regular basis, like on a day we don’t have to show up somewhere for work? Is it purely out of guilt? I like to think that hard-wired into our DNA is the collective memory of journeying. This past Saturday in synagogue we read the ultimate journey story, “Lech Lecha,” which means “Go Forth.” God commanded Abraham, the story goes, to leave everything familiar behind from his father’s land and to go forth in trust to a strange land. God doesn’t speak to us as directly (though we might wish s/he would), but we can meditate to fine tune our ability to listen to the call of our souls.
For 5 minutes, turn off the news. Stop tracking the outer storm. Try this:
- Get comfy. Close your eyes. Know that there is nowhere to go or be.
- Breathe in and out, feeling the gentle rise and fall of the breath. Sense the power and beauty of nature in the form of this storm.
- Become aware of a vast stillness that transcends 3-dimensional time, space, and form. Envision that you are a grain of sand on a beach and also the beach in a grain of sand. You exist in everything and everything exists in you.
- Expand your consciousness to embrace all of creation in this moment. Nothing exists that is not part of you, and you if it.
This meditation is derived in part from Kashmir Shaivism, the yogic philosophy of consciousness, and is ancient, like Abraham’s journey. Whether on foot or within our own beings, all journeys start with one step. Listening to God, a Higher Power, or that still, sure inner voice, sets us in the right direction. Hurricane Sandy bides us extra practice time. There’s nowhere else to go.
Free Write Friday: Go Forth and Follow Your Good (News)
This weekend I got some good news about Catya McMullen, the daughter of dear friends, who won this year’s prestigious, competitive Samuel French new playwright’s contest. This means she is a bonafide playwright who will be paid for work that will be published and produced. What surprised me was how happy I was to hear her news, good news. I’ve heard more “bad” news in the last few years, about friends losing jobs, whose kids are in trouble, people getting ill, dying. I’d forgotten what “good” news sounds like and does to the soul. Perhaps it’s my fault, I’d become conditioned to listening for the loud, bad news, and what I need to do is pay more attention to the quiet, good news. And write about it. Try this:
1. News Flash: Write up some “good news” moments from your own life or the lives of loved ones and friends. Cheer yourself up.
2. On another track, take a journey, literally or metaphorically, and write:
A. Imagine back to a time when you took a journey, scary, outside of your comfort zone, where no one spoke your language or knew you. Write about it. What was it like? What did you learn? What happened upon your return, if you returned?
B. Take a favorite hero from literature or history (including the Bible or another scripture) and adapt their journey to your own time, place, or voice. Or, speaking in first person, write their story from your own or someone else’s point of view.
For instance, if you were writing as Rebecca, Isaac’s wife, you might say: “This servant comes up to me, parched, with a pack of camels. Now he wants me to come with him and marry some distant relative. Am I crazy to go? Well, it’s got to beat hanging around this place.”
Share your good news and journeys with a friend and with us.