Message of the Month
The nature of writing articles is very unpredictable, because in writing, what is omitted and excluded is perhaps more important than what is written. Ideas come flowing, but the majority of them may not be worthy of being considered as good material… and so exercising discretion is critical.
This is why any creative work is unpredictable. Sometimes, we may get a few great ideas simultaneously, and yet other times, long periods of time may pass between good ideas.
And so it is absurd to come up with deadlines for creative work – or at least counterproductive and often self-defying …
But we live in the world of time and space, and we have commitments and deadlines – or as a friend of mine likes to call them, lifelines.
So what are deadlines, and how do we view them from a spiritual perspective?
As I was thinking about this, I realized that we have natural deadlines – like a mother giving birth at the end of pregnancy, or the end of the strawberry season.
And we have declared and consensual deadlines – like the end of the year, or midnight being the end of one day and the beginning of another.
And of course we have imposed deadlines, like the boss wanting a project completed by a certain time…
And self-imposed deadlines like my sending of a monthly message at the beginning of every month.
And perhaps a few other kinds.
I realized as the human race, we have perfected the art of bending and extending and manipulating and changing of deadlines – of whatever kind they are.
We tell ourselves it is OK to send the message a few days late, because we have other priorities. We negotiate with our boss to get an extension or help on the job. We bring in other cultures to have multiple new years, or we look at the different time zones and consider midnight in Washington instead of Paris… and of course, we induce labor to speed up the birth process, or we use greenhouses, artificial lighting and advanced irrigation to extend the strawberry season to cover the entire year.
But then it dawned on me… that all of these occur in the field of action. Deadlines are for doings. Deadlines focus on the action and the outcome. They require an intentional act of will to devote the required energy to create the process that brings about the desired outcome.
Accomplishment of deadlines are a show of exercise of power …. So whether they are deadlines or lifelines, they are power-lines.
But there is another domain – the domain of being – where action takes place without the imposition of will.
Will is a mental process that has created much of our civilization – but will alone is not sufficient, or more accurately, will alone could be dangerous. We can will our civilization into World War III, into genocide, into inequity, into subjugation and subservience, into ignorance and many other things.
However, in the domain of being, the propelling force is not will but love – where action has a natural immediacy but no urgency – where the individual is present and unburdened – where the soul is attracted and pulled, not driven or pushed.
The mother who wakes up for the fourth consecutive time in four hours in the middle of the night to nurse her newborn, does so in spite of her fatigue, and without any intentional act of will. There is a force that draws her to this action, with immediacy, and without consideration for consequences.
The artist who is driven to create that masterpiece, in spite of hunger or lack of recognition, or in the face of fame and expectation, exercises a presence of mind that puts away all of the past and the future, as well as all of the present impositions and expectations.
The impulsive generosity that we may exercise from time to time to lend a helping hand to a stranger, to another fellow human being, is neither intentional nor does it require mental mobilization of our will power.
It is all like the water flowing spontaneously out of a spring, without any regards for the mountainside, or the ocean that may or may not be its destination. The spring flows forth effortlessly and with immediacy, because it is a natural act for the spring.
Neither the spring, nor the artist nor the mother have a deadline – of any sort – because they are propelled and pulled by love, in the field of being. Perhaps it would be a spiritual act to replace all deadlines, lifelines, and power-lines, with Love-Lines.
© Shahriar Shahriari
Los Angeles, CA
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