Gratitude

“All you have to do is to write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” – Ernest Hemingway

I have a tasbeeh at home that I use for meditation. Tasbeeh is a Muslim prayer bead and this one was a gift to my dad from one of his friends who brought it from Mecca. I saw it one day at his place and asked if I could have it and he gave it to me. I am not religious but I am spiritual and my tasbeeh has been helping me to focus on my breath.

This tasbeeh has 102 beads and on the 95th bead there are seven smaller beads attached to another line. When I reach these little beads I stop to give thanks. 

So I pause here in my writing meditations to give thanks to a great writing teacher. I finished a blog-school that I had started in the month of February taught by a wonderful teacher: Kerry Clare.

The class was a gift from Kerry and my sister-in-law who put me in touch with her.

The course has been a reminder of how much I love reading and writing. I’ve enjoyed reading the words of other writers sharing their thoughts, experiences and wisdom, and the bonds that reading creates. The experience of this course and of blogging has nourished me in the cold month of February in a pandemic-ridden world.

Upon a bit of reflection I realized that one of the biggest things I loved about this class has been the ability to start my writing on the computer.

Let me backtrack.

I love writing on paper and I love, LOVE, fountain pens. My partner recently bought me a very nice fountain pen and I love it. My love for pen and paper is so much that I have often written my first drafts on paper, no matter how long they were.

I don’t, didn’t like starting them on a word doc. page… ‘so impersonal’ I would think to myself, ‘so cold, without a feeling or an aura’… until I took this class. I would start writing short blog posts on my note pad as I normally would, sketching out my thoughts on paper. Then I would type it, read, edit, leave it for a day, come back and read and edit again. A long process for a short blog post and I found that it was slowing me down.

After reading a module on the speed of a blog post and how it shouldn’t be a research paper, I experimented. What if I just opened a word doc. and just wrote there very quickly?

The result: a kind of liberation.

It is a beginning of a more freeing path, freedom from so many edits and revisions so that I can quickly get to pressing that ‘damn publish button’. And with that, freeing myself of the ideas that came to me, a kind of freedom that has been a medicine for my anxiety and perfectionism.

What a great gift this was. I hope to take this new found freedom with me.

P.s. this post took a bit longer because of a detour…

My fear showed up again, an old fear, a fear that’s not even fully mine.

I started this post about my tasbeeh, and I went down a spiral of ‘what would happen if I revealed the religion I was born into’. I am not religious and in fact I don’t identify as a Muslim religiously. But the older I get, the more I think regardless of my own identification, there is something of Islam culturally that lives in me, and others certainly would define me as such.

Did you hear this story?

On the four year remembrance ceremony of the Quebec Mosque shooting, which was held on zoom by students at the University of Saskatchewan, white supremacists showed up, yelled that all Muslims shall die, praised Hitler, and drew a swastika on the meeting screen.

I can’t tell you how upsetting and scary these attacks are. For both practicing Muslims, and those who, like me, are born into a religion that they have a complicated relationship with. These stories are very painful and constant reminders of threats.

This story nearly stopped me from posting this note of gratitude to my teacher. I went back and forth thinking about whether I should write something else or just take out the first two paragraphs about tasbeeh.

My gratitude won eventually, but I fought very hard today to press the “Publish” button.

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