A while back, I was reading from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s letters and journals in Against Wind and Tide. I was struck by a comment she made about writing. I think it’s a comment that applies to all of life.
“…the writer must stay centered in the moment. Both fear and hope are in the future and one should not be thinking of the future. To write one must be steeped in the present.” (p. 186)
In my writing, one of the things that paralyzes my creativity and productivity is anxiety. As Lindbergh points out, my anxiety tends to project me into future thinking. This sort of future-think is stressful because it is a place I cannot actually live. I can only live here and now. I cannot write when my thoughts are not present with me. I can only write when I gather myself up into this moment and express what is here. This is why contemplative prayer helps me so much (and probably, also, why I resist it at another level). Contemplative prayer helps me not so much empty my mind as it does unclutter it.
Anxiety has the effect of creating a distracted orientation where I am easily sidetracked into some less-than-meaningful web search or unimportant activity. It’s so much more fruitful to be present for the kinds of creative work I want (and need) to do today and any day. I can only begin now. Now is my moment. It may not be ideal, but at least it actually is.