This is one of those posts that ties together a few ideas that came across my radar last week.
Firstly, I’ve been writing lately and am struck by how the process feels like a constant revision. New insights are revealed to enhance the writing and unnecessary parts are whittled away. Every step is necessary to get to the next one.
In a conversation on writing memoir, writer Andre Dubus III reminded me that the word “revise” means “to see again.” And, of course this is what revising is like; seeing the writing in new ways every time.
Seeing, as if for the first time – with beginners mind.
In this post from The Painter’s Keys, a veteran painter writes to Sara that he wishes he could become a beginner again. Sara replies that it is always possible to go back to “beginner’s mind,” by paying attention, remembering your dreams when you started, exploring new areas without obligation, and imagining possibilities.
In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few. ~ Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
Another way to reclaim beginner’s mind is to try something brand new and experience the actual feeling of being a beginner and all that entails – falling and failing.
Last year, I decided I wanted to learn to kayak. I thought it would be easy, but that’s not been the case. It seems that I’m lacking in certain essential skills, as well as some upper body strength – both rectifiable with practice and persistence. It’s been a humbling experience as I flip the kayak over and over again. Yet, I’m determined to learn.
Life itself is a constant process of revision; best to approach it with beginners mind.
Life is an exploration, for each day is a new landscape, a new state of mind, a new body, with different creaks and strengths. The day-to-day shifts are minuscule, until you step off a cliff or a lightning bolt strikes you or someone you love. Then you are transported immediately to another land, where everything looks different, because it is, because you are. ~ Marialena Carr, Writing as Exploration
What if we were to treat each new day like this, as a blank canvas, and with beginners mind? It’s scary and vulnerable and so much fun. We don’t know what will happen, but the possibilities are exciting to imagine.
If you’re a photographer, no matter how expert, it’s always good to go back to beginner’s mind. We do just that in Photo By Design
, a 6-week online workshop in visual design and seeing. We spend a week each focusing on individual design elements. It starts in less than a month – Monday, August 17th – and I invite you to register now
Zen Habits offers 11 Aspects of Beginner’s Mind
– a guest post by Mary Jaksch of Goodlife Zen