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“The work of your heart, the work of taking time, to listen, to help, is also your gift to the whole of the world.” Jack Kornfield
What a wise, insightful sentiment from a true wisdom seeker! Jack Kornfield is a spiritual teacher with a devoted following and his words echo throughout the planet. Let’s take a few moments to ponder how they might apply to us:
“The work of your heart” – The work of our heart is what we feel called on to do. As writers, that work is to share stories, out own and others, and to make sure that attention is paid to those things in life worth understanding and remembering. We may do this through novels, plays, memoirs, personal essays – the form that the work of our heart takes may vary, but that work is the same: to offer something true and heartfelt.
“The work of taking time” – What does “taking time” mean to you? To me, it means cultivating patience, slowing down, letting things percolate and ripen. So often we are driven to accomplish an agenda, to reach a goal, but the work itself has other plans: It needs to lie fallow for a while, to gather energy and strength. Rushing from one project to another, focusing on finishing rather than furthering our craft can get in the way of impoving that craft. “Taking time” isn’t easy in today’s world, with all its distractions, but perhaps that makes this all the more precious a gift for us to give ourselves.
“The work of taking time, to listen” – Have you ever watched an old, late-night movie in black and white where the characters really listened? There are long, lingering shots that stay on someone’s face as they register their reactions. Sometimes, those shots go on and on, and as viewers, we get to experience what the audience is experiencing. In today’s movies, such shots are rare – in fact, they’re almost nonexistent. Listening – what an art! Friends or family members who truly listen to us — who let us feel known and understood — are rare gems. As writers, listening is one of our most valuable tools — listening to what the world has to tell us, to what other people tell us, to what our own heart tells us, what it wants us to hear and act upon.
“The work of taking time, to help” – Hopefully, if our writing rings true, if it strikes a chord with others and will be of service. Readers will feel they’re not alone or they’ll find escape from their own lives for a while. Or they’ll enter into the heart of another person who lives a life very different from theirs and realize that heart beats with the same desires and demands as their own. Or they’ll learn something about the world that expands their own view of themselves and what’s possible. There are so many ways we can stretch out a hand through our work.
To write from the heart, to take time, to listen, to help – we can all do this as we write on!