Each of us are in the process of writing this one book, the book of our life. It is written, chapter by chapter, year by year, by how we chose to live out this time for the story to be told. Some of the stories are shorter, some longer. Some appear larger, while others are written in a font quite small. But each author must work with the material given to them. Some of us have been given material that is happier, or perhaps easier. For others the book that must be written contains tough times, even the fact of tragedy. For some, it is tragedy that comes not once, but again and again. For others it is a book telling the story of successes won, even of fame and fortune.

While the set and setting for each story has been given to us, the authors are very much creators of their own book. The choices that are made by each fleshes out the scaffolding of what was predetermined, and it is the combination of the material given to the author and their own contributions that make the complete narrative.

What makes this work of ones life worthy of being written? Since much of the facts have been provided, it is not about the scale of one’s life, or about the successes, in whatever way one judges success. The responsibility of the author is twofold. It is to try to write one’s story in a way so that each page is written both with care and with attention.

One needs to take care, in so much as it is in one’s power, that all those who populate the pages of one’s life not be diminished by the actions or inactions of the author. Suffering may come, and eventually will come to all, but it should not come about through the hand of the author. And it is not too much of a leap to recognize that the duty of care include the other living things, not only the people.

To give attention to each page, even each paragraph seems obvious. How else could one write ones story? But there is another level of attention that is possible, it is a level that is required, and it relates back to care. It is the difference between going through the motions versus caring about each sentence, about how it is phrased, the choice of words, the rightness of the punctuation. This quality of attention to the details of one’s life, unfolding before one as one lives out the days matters. It matters because this is the only book I will write. It is the work of a lifetime, and when it is done, it is all done. When I go through days filled with habitual thoughts and dreams those pages are dull and lifeless, hardly worth the paper they are written on, even though each page is a page of my life. When I really notice, really care about each line of the story, then the words on each page come to life, enlivened by my attention. And there is something else. There may very well be moments within certain chapters when the attention is something more, perhaps even something else entirely. There are moments when one’s attention is a conduit for something more subtle to touch the earth. The author participates in this experience, and, when it occurs, there is no doubt whatsoever of its reality. Perhaps those few passages are the reason for the book to be written at all.

Finally, what is to be done with the chapters that have already been written, written years ago, before one understood the necessity of care, and the need for attention? One can’t go back and rewrite those pages, they are written in ink, not in pencil. Harms done cannot be undone. But if one does not try to justify any of it, if one can keep the fact of it as a truth about oneself, then it can act as a means to guide how one will write the remainder of the book. And in that there is not only great value, but a path towards a good ending, finishing with a story well told, a life that overall has been well lived.​

 

4 Comments

  1. Thank you, once again, Dennis. I appreciate, deeply, that you take the time to awaken these thoughts in all of us.

  2. Thanks so much, Susan. And I am glad that you take the time to read them. Best, Dennis

  3. Thank you for this. I have thought a lot about your work and it has had a very strong influence on mine. I appreciate your time, intelligence and commitment to share. Thank you

  4. Dennis, once again I keep revisiting your beautiful words. Uplifting, validating, thought provoking, forgiving… and timely. As once again I accuse you of being a fly on the wall of my brain:) Your writings have been so helpful to me when I open myself up and focus within.

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