“There is only now.” George Balanchine
Someone once asked Gunther Gebel-Williams, a legendary circus performer, what advice he had given his son, who was following in his footsteps as an animal trainer.
“I told him to be there,” the circus performer replied. The listener was confused about what he meant. Perhaps he was advising his son to always show up, just as he had, for more than 10,000 performances straight. But the entertainer had something else in mind.
“When he’s in the ring with lions, tigers, and leopards, he can’t be somewhere else. He must never let his mind wander,” the world-famous animal trainer said. “He must be in the ring mentally.”
As writers, our “ring” is the page. When we come to it, we may find ourselves facing paper tigers like doubt or fear or worry, any of which can take us away from the “ring” and keep us from being fully present mentally. But there are plenty of other distractions we also face: a tendency to drift into the past, a tendency to plan ahead and catapult ourselves into the future, family concerns that may be absorbing our energy, and a legion of others.
When we’re in the ring — facing the page at our desk or wherever we are — let’s be there fully. Let’s leave our distractions, our fears and doubts, our concerns for the future, outside it. Let’s not let our minds wander. If they do, let’s bring them back to the job at hand, gently but firmly.
When we are fully present to our work, “there is only now.” We’re engaged and alive — we’re in “flow” and free to create.
“There is only now” — let’s use the precious gifts it offers us today. Write on!