A beginner’s mind at 47


I’m not going to lie, 47 sometimes feels pretty old. Joints are creaky, I can’t jump as high or run as fast as I used to, and eating a whole pizza in one sitting is far behind me. (I probably shouldn’t have been doing that in the first place, but yes, there was a time when I could eat a whole pizza, usually thick crust, and not feel even the least bit sluggish the next day. That was probably the only good thing about my twenties, however.)

The one time I don’t feel old, though, is when I’m writing. That’s not to say that writing makes me feel young. But it does make me feel like a beginner.

This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to the writers I know. A scroll through the Facebook or Twitter timelines (which I don’t do very often and definitely don’t encourage, especially during election season, unless you want to find reasons to end friendships) shows a lot of my writer friends struggling with characters, writing themselves out of corners, or just plain trying to figure out what their title is. (Hi, ’Nathan.)

I think this is a good thing.

Why? Well, confirmation bias, for one thing. I experience it, therefore I look for it; I find it, therefore it’s legit. To me, anyway. This is just my way of reminding that this is one (older) guy rambling into his keyboard, so take it all with that in mind.

So why do I think it helps me? Beginner’s mind is what keeps me writing. Even when it’s eye-wateringly difficult, approaching a book or a story is never the same drudgery that working a 9-to-5 job, even the best one, can be. (I’ve experienced both.) The challenge is always shifting with every new project. You do learn how to write a book, eventually; but with each new one, you’re learning how to write that book. Right now, I’m learning how to write a sequel, and between you and me? Not easy. But it’s definitely interesting, which is what keeps me doing it.

For another year, at least.