The screen froze again . . . . My first thought, after “oh shit,” was of the Tibetan monks and their beautiful sand paintings. I remembered reading an interview in which they were asked why they spent all that time making the mandalas only to destroy them. They replied, as monks are wont to do, that the making of the mandala was what mattered, not what happened to it after it was finished. — from The Writing Warrior by Laraine Herring

When I die, people will find notebooks and notebooks full of writing. They will find my prayers and my writing exercises, the diaries of my junior high years where I wondered how to make Jamie Kite like me, and the pages and pages of sobbing through words that came in the midst of my divorce. No one will read them in all likelihood, and that’s okay. I don’t need them to. For with these pieces, the practice of the writing was what mattered – that I sat down and lived myself on the page.

It’s easy for me to journal because I know the purpose is in the practice. But when it comes to my “real” writing, (the distinction I make becomes clear even in the idea that I call it “real”), I feel like it has to be focused, structured, moving toward an end. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time. . .

It seems, though, God is trying to tell me something about my writing. Norris’s The Quotidian Mysteries, Herring’s The Writing Warrior, even the pastor’s sermon on Sunday, everyone seems to be teaching me (again and again as is often necessary for me), that the worship is in the work, not in the result. The value is in the practice – to quote every yoga teacher I’ve ever had – not the product.

This is a hard-lesson for me, a born and bred American who believes in efficiency and productivity. I am also a romantic at heart (in love and in life), so the idea of immutability – permanence and transcendence – rises monolithic in my spirit. Yet, I know none of life is immutable, and I know a life of efficiency and productivity breeds frustration and inhumanity. The process is so much more than simply the product.

So today, I took my tiny brush of a pen and laid a few sand-words on the paper to be folded into the pages where they will grow or die while I continue to live.

Monks Working a Sand Mandala