“You have to stalk everything. Everything scatters and gathers; everything comes and goes like fish under a bridge. You have to stalk the spirit, too. You can wait forgetful anywhere, for anywhere is the way of his fleet passage, and hope to catch him by the tail and shout something in his ear before he wrests away.” –Annie Dillard, “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”
Writers are Seekers As the illusions of time and space unfold along the writer’s path, there will come a seemingly random moment when spirit speaks and is heard.You are now forever changed. Your journey–which you thought was focused only on words and stories–begins to take on unimaginable new dimensions. Once you discover spirit is real, you will also discover that you must find it and know it.Spirit is ever illusive. It does not wait for you at the corner of West Wood Street and Fairview Avenue or beside the White Bark Pine in the meadow.
It is not standing in the baggage claim section of an airport holding up a sign with your name on it. You won’t get a “wish you were here” postcard from spirit in the today’s mail.You must stalk spirit as you might stalk a deer or a bear.
You are most likely to find spirit when you are quiet, alert, and observant. Set aside logic and allow your intuition to guide you While your five senses may deceive you, use them to explore what you usually ignore—the shadows between the leaves of a tree rather than the leaves, the scents carried on the wind, the music in the bubbling brook, the taste of air, the texture of rock.
Unlike stalking a deer or a bear, you do not know—and cannot guess—what exactly you are seeking. Spirit leaves no easily discernible tracks to be identified with a Peterson’s field guide.
Do not try to imagine what spirit will look like, sound like, taste like, feel like or smell like or how you might discover it within your thoughts.
And do not seek out spirit as you have read about it in books, seen it in movies, or heard about it from friends. Your expectations will limit your experience and further hide spirit.
“Expectation can only be based on what you already know. In the end you are after what you cannot conceive,’ writes Eric J. Pepin in The Handbook of the Navigator. “By looking for experiences you can relate to you will overlook what you are truly searching for.”Finding spirit is less important than searching for spirit.
In fact, the casually expectant hush of the search will change you, enhance you, transform you and bring you closer to worlds outside your dreams. You will find yourself writing new stories and new articles with words you did not think you knew.
There is no schedule, no expectation, and no goal. As a seeker on the path, you will ultimately throw away roadmaps and guidebooks and you will ignore well-travelled roads, trail signs and blazed trees. This is a spontaneous path of feelings, hunches, impulses and apparent coincidences.
Above all, a writer must always be listening, waiting.
When you can silence the chatter inside your head, when you can forget yourself and all your wish lists, and when you can focus on nothing rather than on the outcome you have always desired, you will be ready.Spirit will not write your next book, your next blog entry, your next story.
Spirit doesn’t take dictation, it inspires. And then, you will discover again and again that your childlike wonder and your patient stalking of spirit is bringing to your writing a glow, a sparkle, and a mysterious hint of things unseen.