Let the Whole Thing Flower


Katagiri Roshi says, “Our goal is to have kind consideration for all sentient beings every moment forever.” This does not mean put a good poem on paper and then spit at our lives, curse our cars, and cut off someone on the freeway. It means carry the poem away from the desk and into the kitchen. That is how we will survive as writers, no matter how little money we make in the American economy and how little acceptance we get in the magazines. We are not writing for money and acceptance – although that would be nice.

The deepest secret in our heart of hearts is that we are writing because we love the world, and why not finally carry that secret out with our bodies into the living rooms and porches, backyards and grocery stores? Let the whole thing flower: the poem and the person writing the poem. And let us always be kind in this world.

~ Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones, Freeing the Writer Within

Something happens to me when I’ve written something really good, something that flows and just pours onto the page in an almost effortless way – something that so needed to be written and said that it had a mind of its own and could barely wait for me to get up to write it. It was tapping on my eyelids before I even woke up, pen in hand, bringing me coffee and begging me to start. Those are the days when I feel the most alive. And everything around me slows down.

When I’ve put something on paper that is particularly delicious, I float for the rest of the day. The cashier at the grocery store is delightful, and I want her to know it. I compliment everyone around me and bring out the nice in them because they have it in them, we all just forget sometimes in our busyness. It takes someone being incredibly present in their own body, aware and alert and pausing to notice the beauty around them to wake the rest of us up to our lives, our precious smiling children who aren’t even that crazy in the store, just boisterous and beautiful.

Do you feel that way? Do you feel like the good you do on the page spills out into the rest of your life, and makes you appreciate everything and everyone? I want to be a better listener when I’ve done some good writing. I want to be a better mom, a better lover, a better wife. I want my joy to be something that makes those around me happy that I’m writing. What good would it be if when I tucked myself away to write, I came out of that place crabby? Who would want to afford me the time or space to do what I need most? But when I emerge from writing filled with presence and tolerance, joy and a better ability to pay attention, when I seek kisses from my loved ones, and linger over their faces with my eyes. How could they not feel that giving me a chance to write makes all of our lives better?

photo from here

2 thoughts on “Let the Whole Thing Flower

  1. I am smiling SO HUGE right now, Liesl! Your blog is beautiful. And this post hits me straight in the heart. I love the book you quoted (my favorite college professor gave it to me many years ago but I still turn to it again and again) and I resonate with everything you say.

    This is GOLD: “I want to be a better listener when I’ve done some good writing.” Oh my gosh I could CHEER! Yes, yes, yes.

    So glad we found each other. 😉

    Stay beautiful,


    1. And I am so glad we found each other too. It means so much to know this speaks to you. I have been out working on my farm all day. I got a notification on my phone that you’d made a comment, and your words carried me through all day. I couldn’t properly respond from inside the chicken coop, but my heart soared to know you were on my blog enjoying my words, and that we had indeed each found a gentle reader and audience for our work! Thank you!

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