Writing (and living) as composting

I’ve never been a big fan of the concept of synchronicity. Seems like a lot of schlock, if you ask me. Then, I read a lovely piece on metaphor by someone I read regularly. I’m currently writing a paper on metaphorization and the social imaginary, which I hope to post a draft of next week. See the other person’s piece here

Then, I ran across another post (here) on a book which the author described as the book version of Woody Guthrie’s guitar: if Guthrie’s guitar killed fascists, the author said, this book killed writer’s block. I was intrigued, and got a copy from the library.

Finally, I had a discussion about Buddhism and composting with a friend and colleague currently attending Stanford. Both of us are fairly avid composters, though we came to the activity through very different routes. I had thought that perhaps there was something about the process of decay and decomposition that appealed to students of Buddhism. See his profile here.

Anyway, all these came together in this book, by Natalie Goldberg, a Zen practitioner and writing instructor, called Writing Down The Bones. This book is organized into small, pithy chapters intended to reduce the mental inhibitions we have against actually, and finally, writing. This is also the book which that other poster compared to Woody Guthrie’s guitar. In a chapter called ‘Composting,’ Goldberg writes:

It takes a while for our experience to sift through our consciousness. … Our senses by themselves are dumb. They take in experience, but they need the richness of sifting for a while through out consciousness and through our whole bodies. I call this ‘composting.’ Our bodies are garbage heaps: we collect experience, and from the decomposition of the thrown-out eggshells, spinach leaves, coffee grinds, and old steak bones of our minds comes nitrogen, heat, and very fertile soil. Out of this fertile soil bloom our poems and stories. But this does not come all at once. It takes time. Continue to turn over and over the organic details of your life until some of them fall through the garbage of discursive thoughts to the solid ground of black soil. (14)

Now. I gotta go turn some (real) compost. Wash my hands. Go swimming with my children


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