Writing Is My Mental Garden
Walk with me.
I write something every day. I set up my environment to be conducive to writing something every day. I prepare myself mentally for writing every day. I have made a ritual of writing every day. As I look back on the last decade, I see how writing all that time has helped me to grow up, to see into my mind, and to avail myself of the people in my life.
Every morning I do three writing exercises. I write a gratitude list. I write a morning page. I write an article for the purpose of publication. All of these things together create a sort of mental garden. Part of my garden is private, the other part of it is public. My private garden is where I grow the food and I put that in the backyard. My public garden is in the front yard, and it is what I have published in places like Blogger, Steemit, and Medium. When you see my profile, you see the entrance to my public mental garden.
Every morning I write a gratitude list to remind myself of all the gifts that I enjoy in my life now. I give attention to those gifts because they cannot be enjoyed without attention. I give thanks for those gifts because I am thankful for them. I honor those gifts by noticing them and writing them down. I cherish those gifts by using them and sharing them.
In that list that I write every day, I take note of 10 things that I’m grateful for. Some of the gifts I have received and enjoy at this very moment include the fact that I’m alive, there is peace in my home, I am at peace with myself, my family, my home, and my neighbors. I love them all. I also give thanks for activities that I did yesterday, like mowing the lawn, playing ping pong, taking a nap, eating a nice meal, or just chilling with my kids. I am grateful for all of this and so much more, but there are only so many lines on a page, so I just note ten of them every morning. That’s part of my private garden. I can go there anytime, but I like to be in the garden first thing in the morning when the air is cool and still.
Then I write a morning page. I got this idea from the book, The Artists Way. In this exercise, I start with a fresh page in my word processor of choice, give it a date, and fill it up with whatever is on my mind. Good days, challenging days, new stuff, old stuff, memories, wistfulness, happiness, it all goes in there. I set one page as the limit so encourage brevity. That limit forces me to bring up only the most important things to me and I put them on the morning page first. Like the gratitude list, both exercises require me to assign priority to the people, places, and things in my life and acknowledge them.
In my morning page, I talk about family, politics, tech, whatever is on my mind. I often find the seeds of new articles while I muse on my morning page. Sometimes, I copy paragraphs from my morning page to the article I want to write, setting aside plans I had made for another article the day before. My morning page is just one of the places where I find inspiration for the articles I publish. It is my warmup for what is usually the highlight of my day, writing and publishing an article.
My morning page serves another purpose. Much of what really interests me, is not that interesting to my wife and kids. They’re on another path doing some other thing unrelated to what I like to do. We have shared interests and we have our own interests and I respect that.
In my morning page, I acknowledge the fact that much of what interests me is really quite boring for other people. So I write about my interests there, in my morning page, before anyone has had a chance to rise from bed. I write the morning page to say everything that I wanted to say, without boring them of the details. I write my morning page so that I’m not trying to worm what interests me and not them, into an awkward segue. I write about the things most important to me in my morning page so that I’m ready to listen to everyone else I encounter in a day.
Then I write my article for the day. I find news of interest and see if I can put that in the context of my overarching goal: to err on the side of peace. I give notice of authoritarianism when I see it. I look for what I think are root causes of the problems that we are working through as a culture and talk about them. I am actively trying to find a way that we can all live together in peace, and I put that into my articles.
What you see here on Medium or any other place that I have published my writing is my public garden for my mind. I share my idea not to say that I’m right and you are wrong. I publish my writing to say, “Hey, look at this over here. Isn’t that interesting?” I write and publish articles to plant the seeds I harvested from my private garden in my public mental garden. It is my hope, with every article that I write, that I have made some small contribution to the work of bringing peace to the world I live in.
I cultivate ideas in my garden. I water them, feed them, prune them, compost them, and recycle them. I maintain a profile here on Medium and on Twitter mostly, to give you access to my public mental garden. I plant the seeds of peace, love, and understanding wherever I can. I’m not perfect at it, and I don’t try to be. I just do what I do to see what happens next. But whatever I do, I’m thinking of the goal, to err on the side of peace.
I write a gratitude list, morning page, and work on an article each day. These three habits have helped me to grow up from an adult child into an adult. Writing makes clear to me, my errors, and my successes. Writing has helped me mature into an introspective, critically thinking adult. Writing has allowed me to prosper in ways that I could not have imagined before, and I’m not just talking about money. I’m talking about knowing myself so that I may be true to me.
When I see a good idea, I honor it by following it, exploring it, and publishing it. Practiced over and over again, these habits have brought me peace. I share these ideas to share the peace I have for myself with you.