Falling in love all over again… from ‘ought’ to ‘want’

heart pebbleI’ve fallen in love all over again. With my lovely husband, of course. But also with writing small stones.

A small stone is a written record of a moment of paying proper attention. It is a deceptively simple and hugely powerful tool which connects me to what is around me, helping me to notice beauty, get more honest, and find gratitude. It is at the heart of our mindful writing e-courses.

I wrote one every day between 2005 and June this year. Then I stopped.

I stopped for two reasons.

I have been writing my fifth novel, ‘Afterwards’ for a long time. Or, more accurately, I’ve been NOT writing it. And so I stopped everything I could stop in order to focus on getting to the end of the story. (The book is now finished and will be coming out soon.)

I also stopped because my daily small stone practice had slowly and sneakily changed from something-I-wanted-to-do to something-I-ought-to-do.

I’m the person who invented small stones. I edit a blogzine which publishes small stones. We’ve edited two books of small stones. We run a Mindful Writing Challenge every January, and a Mindful Writing Day every November the 1st. Therefore, I MUST write small stones.

Sometimes it is good to do things because we ought to do them. Brushing our teeth, for example, or feeding our children.

The problem with ‘ought’ is that sometimes we end up doing things because they are expected, or because we think they are expected. We do things FOR other people. This puts people into the awkward position of feeling they ought to be grateful for the things we’ve done for them, or we might get resentful. All that ought.

Getting tangled in ‘ought’ also means we forget our original reasons for wanting to do the thing.

Ideally, we should have reasons for doing everything we do that are sufficient in and of themselves. If we find ourselves thinking ‘ought’, we should go back to our original reasons for doing what we’re doing, and release other people from any obligation. If they appreciate what we’re doing, great. But if not, that’s fine too.

I’d got caught up in thinking that the world expected me to write small stones, that it would be disappointed if I stopped. For the most part, it wasn’t upset. It didn’t even notice.

I noticed, though. I missed the discipline of jotting down a few sentences a day and playing with the words. I missed the opportunity to slow down and pause, in amongst my compulsive busyness. I missed letting go of myself and immersing myself instead in that tawny pink hydrangea flower, the quiet swoosh of this car as it passes, the cool plastic of the keyboard under my fingertips.

Welcome home to writing small stones, Satya. It doesn’t matter if anyone reads them or not. It doesn’t matter if other people are inspired by them or not. It’ll be lovely if they do, if they are, but it’s not necessary.

What matters is the writing.


Heart Rock by Melina