Reflection for the Soul

Odin explores the true spirit of vacations, writing as work, and more!

Reflection for the Soul

The best medicine for the soul is the ability to reflect, to step outside of ourselves and see the infinite ripples of cause and effect for what they are: part of the natural and vibrant life of the cosmos.

Sometimes, reflecting requires stepping literally outside of life as well. This week, I got the chance to do just that. We took a delightful trip up the coast to one of our favorite places on the Earth: the place where we were married, and one of the most gorgeous natural spaces in California.

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Walking by the storming ocean tides crashing into the rocky Mendocino coast is a beautiful experience that humbles the soul. You can't help but feel at once insignificant and yet utterly, holistically, connected in the face of that raw power. And there is so much peace to be found there as well, woven into the bounty of that natural landscape. The gradient of flame across the horizon as the sun slowly sets; the trillions of reflected silver mirrors as moonlight is cast upon the waning nighttime tide; the myriad living things that make their homes and live their lives amid the windblown grasses of the shore.

By stepping into nature, away from the hubbub that surrounds me, I felt more at one with myself than I have in ages. And that's allowed me to return to nature with greater peace, but also greater enthusiasm for the projects of my life.

Too often, people head out on “vacation” only to return more tired than when they left. But I think the true goal of a vacation is reflection. If you attend to your time away from life with this meditative goal of self-betterment, I think you can't help but return to your old life refreshed and clearer-eyed.

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Which doesn't mean that there isn't a lot to do! I'm still tackling coursework for my MLIS, job applications, social connections with friends, writing projects, and the piecework of larger life projects that have been slowly waxing into being.

I'm busy. But, I'm more able to sit with that business, to settle into it like the embrace of an old friend. There are many things to do, but I'm rejuvenated enough to do them.


The other week, the editors on Medium saw fit to boost one of my little articles. This sent it out to a massive readership, skyrocketing my reading numbers for the next two weeks. Since then, between various work efforts and my vacation, I haven't worked on many articles. However, I did publish one.

Laws like this are about control, not care. I make the point in my above article that, if the lawmakers of West Virginia really wanted to do some good, they could be restoring their social safety net. But that wouldn't net the fear+anger votes now, would it?

My own writing has been in the largely conceptual stage for a few weeks. I've stalled around chapter 18 of my rewrite as I try to sink deeper into character development. I'm hoping that by focusing on backstory and motivation, the plot will start making more sense. I'm also resisting the urge to just pick up a shiny new project.

At the same time, part of me just really wants to start fresh. To settle down with a totally new story and employ all the tools I've been working on toward finishing that. I know now that I need a clear plot to guide me as I write. I know that I need to build detailed character designs before I even start writing. I know that I can still “pants” if I have a structure to hold it.

But, jumping to another project feels a little too much like quitting.

At the end of the day, writing is just hard. Wonderful, and I love it… but hard.

I have been putting time and energy into my D&D setting the last few weeks at least, which has been a purely playful writing experience. I've always worked best in cooperative writing environments, and that's really what D&D is for me. It's been delightful to see my group take the ideas I generate and run with them, expanding and expounding ideas of their own both in and out of the play sessions.

I'm not focusing on any news stuff this week. This next week promises to be quite busy, but I'm hopeful that I'll be able to get some more creative fiction, and maybe an article or two, off the ground.

In the meantime… go easy, friends! And, if you can't go easy, just go as easy as you can.


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