If the first (and second) rule of Morning Pages is Do Them First Thing Upon Waking, the third rule must be Never Go Back And Reread Them, and the fourth is certainly Don’t You Dare Let Anyone Else Read Them Either.
Morning Pages creator Julia Cameron says:
“Do not reread these pages or allow anyone else to read them. Ideally, stick them in a large manila envelope, or hide them somewhere.”
I love Cameron and her practice. But this week I prefer to rip a page from Bruce Lee’s book:
“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.”
Since according to some I’ve already broken the first two rules (I start them after I’ve showered and had breakfast, while on my commute to work), I may as well break the third and the fourth. Or rather, “add what is specifically my own” to them.
The output of my Morning Pages span from the profound and sublime, to whiniest of bitching, and everything in between. It’s hardly ever perfect. It’s not always coherent. It’s mostly never worth sharing. But occasionally something emerges that seems worthwhile to share.
Today, I’d like to offer a peek inside one of my Morning Pages that lands a little closer to the profound side of the scale. It’s something I wrote in March while in Athens, Greece. I’ve edited it slightly to make it easier to read, but the general gist remains. Think of this as an improvisation — it could certainly be edited further for easier digestion, but I share to show a piece of writing that’s less manicured and a little raw. Enjoy!
Sunday, March 1, 2015
Woke up at noon today — 10 hours of sleep. Haven’t done that in a while.
A wind instrument, an accordion-sounding thing plays in the background.
Actually it’s a blow-organ — one of those small keyboards you blow air into while playing the keys with your fingers. An old man in a fedora, trench coat, burgundy corduroy pants, slightly lighter red shirt and a floral tie plays it, floating around the square.
The square is tiny. A miniature jungle of trees and brush. A winding path of circles inside it. Outdoor cafes guard its perimeter. A murmur of Greek and a waft of smoke and coffee live in the air. Cats and children roam. The sun sets and the March air chills.
I’m happy. Content. I smile at the waitress and stumble over my Greek to order a loumidis (Greek coffee).
Half sweet, please.
I remember what it feels like to be completely at peace, at ease. Calm. Free. I’m here at my own choosing. I’m at this cafe because I roamed around and chose to sit down here.
Other things in the world tempt me to forget and give away my moment of peace — an email, a task, an urgent request, even a death.
But this time is mine. I will be present and enjoy it.
And how important to say such a thing. These times are never given to us. They may be offered and presented to us, but never, ever given. So we must take them.
These moments are offered daily. In the quiet. While we wait in line. In between the moment when we turn the shower water on and when we step underneath its stream. On a walk from home to the station. On a walk from the station to work. From work to the station. From the station to home.
These moments are the in-between — the dead and dull but endlessly valuable airspace between the things we feel must do and the things we want to do.
They are presented to us daily. But how rarely do we take them.
And it’s a shame, really, because a world of wisdom sits in these moments. Life lives in these moments. The Gods exist in these moments.
If we’re ambitious and care enough, these moments can be elongated and drawn out to such lengths that we can tangibly touch, taste, feel them.
An evening of the in-between.
A weekend of the in-between.
A whole week of the in-between.
Even 7-months of the in-between.
Time isn’t wasted spent dwelling in the in-between. It tastes sweeter here. It’s much brighter here. Time reveals itself for what it is here — the most precious commodity we have.
A minute spent soaking up the in-between is a minute savored and spent wisely. It’s a minute spent appreciating the minute of breath we’ve been graciously given. It’s a minute spent living. It’s a minute spent being. A minute spent in the calmness of the present moment isn’t a minute spent earning or spending or leveraging or producing or capitalizing.
But it’s in that moment (if you truly let that moment to be) that insight and wisdom are allowed to peek through. It allows one to experience the very thing we’re after. Peace. Happiness. The feeling of being alive.
It’s in that moment where we discover the cracks of light that help guide our way. Again, it’s on us to pay attention. Only our eyes and hearts can spot it. Our in-between is our in-between. No one else’s.
The wonderful thing about the in-between is that the opportunity to experience it is a choice we each have — no matter our ethnicity, geography, age, gender or socioeconomic status. No circumstance matters.
To spend my life harnessing this in-between — what a gift. To take what I see in the light and distill it into something. For others. To help them notice. For myself. To remind myself to notice.
I came to Greece for several reasons, but mostly to grab hold of the in-between. To touch it. To remember it’s still there. To rediscover its power. It’s always been there.
There’s wisdom here in the in-between. The wisdom to know that it’s all just the in-between. To take a moment, to have an hour, to spend a day allowing ourselves to experience it — it becomes crystal clear.
We live forever in the in-between.
If you’d like to learn more about Morning Pages, why I do them, and how I managed to stick with them, check out the Medium article 3 Pages Every Morning: Why I Started a Daily Ritual and How I Stuck With It.