Now and Zen

The world outside is frozen solid. Everything is white as far as the eye can see, including the sky. If the trees could shiver, they’d be shivering.

It’s really, really quiet, too. Car tyres are muffled on the frosty roads. Birds are too busy trying to survive to make even the smallest peep. People are mostly indoors, so the usual babble and chatter you’d expect isn’t there. All in all, it’s a good moment to try to remember to be Zen. However, I’m too busy trying not to panic at the thought of going out later and possibly losing my footing on a slippery pavement, or whether we have enough food to last the day.

Yes. I would literally worry about anything.

It's not like I even have anything worth worrying about, like 'What on earth has happened to my hand?' Photo Credit: Zitun via Compfight cc

It’s not like I even have anything worth worrying about, like ‘What on earth has happened to my hand?’
Photo Credit: Zitun via Compfight cc

Thinking of characters and stories and worlds, and incubating them long enough for them to take root and settle into a workable shape and consistency, and then – eventually – writing them down, is a time-, sanity- and heart-consuming thing. It not only takes effort and dedication, but also one important element: internal balance. I mean, it’s hard to write effectively if you’re worried, or stressed, or sick. I’ve been having a bad run of worry, stress and sickness for the past couple of months, and it has really impacted my work. Not only in terms of my ability to put words on a page (though I’ve been battling through regardless), but also my peace of mind, my self-belief, my future planning, my vision of what my career might be.

So. A white world outside the window is a fine reminder that this is all okay. Sometimes, things are quiet. Sometimes, it seems like not a lot is happening when in reality, it’s all going on beneath the surface. It’s a time to realise that not everything needs to happen all at once, all the time, and that a fallow period after a time of busyness is perfectly okay – so long as it doesn’t go on forever. This is one of the reasons why I love living in a country where we have seasons, where we can see winter happening, and where its lessons can be hammered home year after year after year.

Because, yes. I am continually falling into the same fear-spirals, and forgetting how I fought my way out of them the last time. You’d think I’d learn, wouldn’t you?

Going at any creative endeavour with a mind and heart full of pressure and stress is a recipe for disaster. So, I’m going to take a few deep breaths of the cold, frosty air, feel the crunch of snow under my boots, and come back refreshed and full of renewed appreciation for how lucky I am.

And then I’m going to get back to work.



6 thoughts on “Now and Zen

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Ha! We don’t have quite enough snow for that. I could probably build a miniature frost-man. If I do, he shall be christened Olaf Wally, in your honour. 🙂

  1. Jan Hawke

    Gotta lurve snowy, wintry weather – so long as you don’t HAVE to go out in it! I do love how everything’s so quiet when there’s a goodish layer of snow on the ground and everything’s huddling down somewhere trying to stay warm if they can. If you choose not to go out in it then there’s suddenly time for maybe light a fire or make some hot milky drink that normally you wouldn’t take the time for and just sit near a heat source and let the world sink away if only for ten minutes. Different it all happens on ‘big shop’ day of course and the larder’s empty, but if not it can turn out to be a lovely writerly day if the workface has a view out on the beautiful calm white world (or even the wild windy ones it the house is toasty enough! 😉 ).
    Hope you had this sort of a day and put your worlds to rights.

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thanks, Jan. I actually had a great day, writing-wise, yesterday, completing over 4,000 words on a WiP, and so I’m pleased. It was nice to feel the words flowing again after a relatively barren period! And all the things you describe – quiet, fires lighting, hot drinks, contemplation – are reasons I *love* the winter. People always think I’m weird to love the winter more than the summer, but I do. Occasional low moods and lack of light aside, it’s a gorgeous time of year.

      Thanks for the lovely message! I hope all’s well in your corner of the world. 🙂


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