I’m currently reading Adair Lara’s excellent book on personal essay writing, Naked, Drunk, and Writing. In it, she talks about how it’s good for writers to have routines. You know, stuff like put on your favorite sweater, or play classical music… I gotta get a routine, I think to myself as I yank open the door of the Barnes and Noble with my laptop bag slung over my shoulder. I’ve come to get a new notebook that I can jot my SOLs in when travelling to and from work on the subway. It would be handy to find a spot to write, too, if it’s not too crowded.

Upon entering, I practically run into a towering display of dvds that’s been erected at the front doors. I thought this was a bookstore! I shake my head and grumble as I walk back to the display of Moleskine notebooks.

I linger over the variety of sizes, colors, and line choices available (Plain? Ruled? Graph?) and carry the five notebooks I’ve chosen to the cash register. (Did I mention that I need A notebook? As in, one, single notebook…?) After paying, I wander up to the café on the mezzanine level. It’s packed with people hunched over their computers, magazines and books. Bah! Mostly writers with routines, I figure. I get on the elevator going up the stairs to the top floor.

I wander to the far corner of the store, where I spy an open spot on a wide windowsill. I sit down and take out my laptop, trying for a few minutes to balance my computer on my lap… before opting for the floor instead. I flop down cross-legged and look around. I notice that I’m sitting in the New Age section.

What does that even mean, New Age? Shouldn’t we just stop using that term altogether? It’s completely outdated and doesn’t begin to describe the richness and variety of ways we understand spirituality in the 21st century!

I study the peeling black label on the shelf above my head that says “Meditation.”

And why would meditation be in the New Age section next to titles like, ‘So You want to Be Psychic?’ and ‘Tarot for Beginners?’ Is there really that little understanding of meditation in the world?

My eye catches on a bright red cover that reads, “Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program”. It’s by Sharon Salzberg. I love her. I pick it up and start to flip through it.

I should meditate more. Maybe I should meditate right now? I need a writing routine, right? Maybe I should include a little meditation before I write. Hmm… What would the right meditation be before writing? I mean, would it be a mantra thing or a sharpening-my-senses meditation or just, like, listening to my breath?

I put the book back. Maybe there’s some other book I need here. One that will make me meditate. One that will change my life. My eyes scan the titles:

  • Meditation for Multitaskers
  • 5-Minute Mindfulness
  • The Meditation Bible
  • Learn to Meditate
  • The Best Meditations on the Planet
  • Everyone’s Mandala Coloring Book
  • Meditation for the Love of it
  • Satisfy a Woman Every. Single. Time.

Hmmm…. One of these things is not like the others.

I giggle and get down to writing. If I have a writing routine at all, so far it goes something like this: distract myself by studying the inexplicable wackiness of the world around me, which then somehow lures me back into doing my best to capture it in words.