Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Driving from the Front Seat

As writers, we are required to live not only in the world of the here and now but also in the 'world of the book' which means putting aside the everyday mechanics of living and 'going off' into the fictional reality we are trying to create for our readers.

One danger of this is that we may use this facility to dwell on day-to-day problems that are getting us down at the expense of being able to live and enjoy life in the present. I've had this challenge for years and it came home to me recently during a walk by a beautiful lake when I realised that I'd gone a hundred yards, deep in thought about family problems and not registered any of the beauty around me.

Not only that, but I wasn't one inch closer to solving the problems I was obsessing about.

Spiritual advisors, life coaches and self-help books will advise you to 'live in the present' -  but what does that mean in physical terms?

The discovery I made on that walk by the lake was that - if I could imagine my brain as the inside of the car and put all the 'worry' and everything that was not happening right now in the back seat - then I could 'drive my life from the front seat - looking directly out onto the world without all the baggage behind me getting in the way.

This takes a bit of practice and I still find it hard to stop slipping back into the back seat most of the time. But the times when I am 'in the front seat' and experiencing the shapes, colours, sounds and tastes of the real world, and my interactions with the people in it, are quite amazing. The best way I can describe it is like watching a 3D technicolour movie instead of a black and white TV, or the way the hero felt when he took his first shot of the drug NZT in the movie 'Limitless'.

Try it yourself and let me know if it works for you!

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