Omer Day 11: Endurance of Discipline

Netzach of Gevurah – Endurance of Discipline

Many people ask me how I have the time to write. I never know how to answer that question. We all have time and need to make conscious choices of how we use our time. Sure, I procrastinate and go through periods of not writing but mostly I carve out time to write—early in the morning before my kids wake up, evenings when I’ve finished other work or in chunks of time that I sometimes claim for myself on a weekend afternoons.

I write because I need to—writing is how I process the world. When I’m walking my dog, I’m often writing an article or a story in my head. As I fall asleep, I think about characters. This is how I’ve been since I was a child—I had a teacher in third grade who saw my spark and encouraged me to keep writing. In my teen years, there was no social media to post my feelings on (thanks goodness) but I filled thick journals every few weeks.

I don’t think of myself as an especially disciplined person—my writing process and practice come from an intuitive place. I don’t often start out with a project or plan in mind. But as I get older and see that my writing practice has been part of my life longer than anything else I’ve done, I recognize that I have learned discipline through my writing.

Even more than prayer, meditation, study, or any kind of Jewish ritual, writing is the way that I connect to my soul and to what I experience as the Divine. Writing feels good. That is the secret of my discipline: I write, I make time to write, because nothing else makes me feel as grounded in and connected to what I experience as God.

Maybe in that is a secret to discipline in general: to find that process, that practice that energizes you and sustains you. I know that for many of my friends it’s exercise, making art, cooking, worship. For me, it’s waking early, walking my dog, putting the coffee on, and opening my computer to the blank page. What emerges might be messy and frustrating and may take years to become something that I share with others, or never share. But it’s my commitment to opening the page and starting that keeps me engaged.

In this Omer season, on what can feel like a lonely journey through the wilderness, I invite you to take time today and consider: what is it in your life that you must do? Follow it into the early morning or the quiet hours of night. Claim it and don’t let anyone make you feel selfish for taking that time. All we have are moments and we never know which moment will be the last of our life. If some practice brings you joy and connection and depth, do that thing as much as you can. 

Image by D’vorah Horn from her set of Omer Practice Cards (2016).

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