Quiche, Coffee & The Morning Pages was featured (on Sep 17, 2013) as a Guest Post on Indies Unlimited. Indies – the happening website for independent publishers worldwide!
It’s the Manhattan winter of 1992, less than three months since I’ve left my mate of fourteen years, losing, in one fell swoop, all the solid props of my life. To stay financially afloat, I take on freelance administrative gigs in arguably the planet’s most frenzied and high-stakes city.
Weeks are busy, but weekends are poisoned with a high-octane cocktail of anxiety, guilt and confusion; I cannot seem to extricate myself from the tangled nest of viperous thoughts that paralyze me into a state of chronic despair. Have I done right in placing personal integrity above the comfort of family and economic security?
Sunday morning dawns and my neighbour Leanna calls to invite me over for brunch. She hands me a copy of Julia Cameron’s The Artists’ Way. “No thanks,” I say ungraciously. “I’ve enough to read.” She presses it on me, betraying a pity that turns my proud stomach. “This will free your head up, honey,” she says gently. “A bunch of us got together and did the exercises. They do work, you know.”
Leanna is decades my senior, a sculptor who owns the four-storey brownstone bang opposite me. Her scientist husband is doing something top secret in the Negev Desert, their only son has moved to Brazil to be with his stunning girlfriend. With no one else around to cosset, Leanna has taken me firmly under her wing. Something about my face reminds her of the fragile sister she’d lost to suicide seventeen years ago.
She has read my unfinished collection of short stories about Indian women on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She admires them and thinks I have it in me to write a novel. She feeds me home-made broccoli-cheddar quiche, brews fragrant coffee in the ancient Italian coffee-maker, and drops a light kiss on my cheek. This abundance of caring evokes stirrings of discomfort, but I am not so far gone that I cannot acknowledge it as a rare gift in a world known for its conditional love.
Before I leave—armed with the rest of the quiche and a pound of organic pears—Leanna rushes into her study and returns with a big red journal. “Here, take this too,” she says. “You’ll need it to do the exercises in the book.”
I scan The Artist’s Way that night in bed. No way I will do the exercises, I decide, but one concept does strike me as intriguing—what Cameron calls the Morning Pages: Dump all your waking thoughts onto paper, she advises, without sequence, repetitiously if need be, and make it a minimum of three pages. And what will this do for the half-awake scribe? Unplug the drain of the mind and allow all the crap blocking it to sink into oblivion—whereupon creative juices begin to flow again. Well, I sneer as I lie back on my soft pillows, let’s bloody well see, shall we?
Monday morning my brain feels wrapped in cotton wool. I’ve an hour to go before I catch the subway to the World Trade Center where I work for a stockbroker on the forty-ninth floor—an absent-minded fellow who leaves me alone so long as I pick up his calls and type his memos. Grunt work that pays well.
I sit at my dining table and jot down every scrap of thought that floats into my mind. Amorphous fears connected to the great crime I have committed as an Indian woman from a traditional background—of cutting loose from a husband who did not consider me his equal, and so felt free to deceive me in crucial ways—emerge in bloody bits and coalesce into bizarre patterns. By walking away, I’ve alienated my blood family and callous in-laws. And what is the brilliant result of my escape? A solitary and frugal existence on the third floor of a brownstone with sagging wooden floors in a cold and glittering city where no one seems to care a rat’s ass about the fate of one more immigrant who’s lost her way.
Every day I pour my heart and soul out before rushing off to work. On weekends I write upwards of ten pages in one manic go. I’ve used up Leanna’s journal and write on my computer instead. All the junk collecting dust in the attic and basement of my mind finds its way into the middle to be sorted out. Yucky stuff bubbles out of subconscious reservoirs. My job is to drag it yelping and whining into the fire of a new consciousness to be burnt to ashes.
Soon I become aware that a miracle has occurred: I am now certain that I did the right thing in abandoning a situation that had threatened to drown me in the quicksand of the mundane and the mediocre. My mind grows clean and sharp and shining. It tells me I am not alone or helpless as I pursue this sacred mission to be free. The word is God, I mutter to myself in growing excitement, even as I jettison all that is holding me back from knowing how powerful I truly am.
Twenty-three years later, I have a novel making wavelets out in the world, two more simmering on the back burner, and a blog—produced in alliance with exceptional friends—highlighting the metaphysical and mundane aspects of this amazing life I have been allowed to live. And while those distant days of emotional paralysis in New York have long since given way to days of increasing certainty, whenever the demons of chaos drive holes into my ability to function in top gear, I never hesitate to return to that old way of writing myself sane.
Exceptional Mastery of storytelling with heartfelt honesty and rich play of words. I am in awe of your wonderful talent Mira
David, my birthday and soul brother, if it takes good writing to get you to reach out to me, then I shall keep working hard to please you….. Hope all is well and thanks for the rich support — after all, you are one of the world’s few who could actually beat me at Scrabble! Love, Mira
Hi Mira… I don’t remember our “scrabble encounter,” but can truly relate to this post. I, too, left a marriage that didn’t work anymore. My Ex preferred to spend time with her friends, and even started taking separate vacations during our last years ‘together.’ Together was only in name only in the final years. I had been used to her going to Malaysia (her home) every few years while I stayed to “keep the home fires burning.” Once our 2 sons were out of the nest, there seemed to be even less contact. Partners seem to either grow closer together, or drift apart. Ours was the latter option, not by choice. We made some effort to stay together, but it just seemed too little, too late. Anyway… I just wanted to share some of the dynamics which led to the demise of our marriage. I have certainly suffered a considerable amount of emotional fall-out, as has my ex-wife. We have barely had any contact over the last 2 years. Neither of us expected our marriage to end this way. Such is life… I have been living as a confirmed bachelor in New Mexico for over 2 years now. Sometimes it actually feels like I am a widower. It is water under the bridge at this point.
My Ex has finally decided to move on. She just recently sent me divorce papers which will end any hope we could possibly be re-united. I promptly signed and returned them to her attorney in Virginia. Life goes on… Yes? Neither of us is a “bad person;” whatever that means… but I personally felt the need to move on with whatever life I could envision for myself. We did the best we could to find common ground. It just didn’t work out.
By the way… my eldest son’s name is Prabhu. My Ex and I initially connected as devotees of Sri Swami Satchidaananda. We actually lived at Yogaville during the years the LOTUS was being constructed. I had the great blessing to contribute some time and labor to the project. LOTUS was actually used by Sri Gurudev; as he is called by his followers, as a moniker; meaning “Light Of Truth Universal Shrine.” Hence, my own personal spiritual connection became a mutual interest after I met my Ex; Parameswari.
Well, Mira, enough said for now… Suffice it to say I have enjoyed encountering your posts, and particularly wanted to share I can really relate to this specific one. It is very cathartic to share with others who have gone through similar experiences. Thank you for continuing to include me in your network. You need persistence with me because I am not one for joining Facebook (Fakebook?); Linked-In; or other such sites. I like to think of myself as an open person, but I still enjoy my privacy, and think of such sites as too intrusive and occupying.
Sorry Dave! I mistook you for my cousin, who lives in California and with whom I once used to play endless games of Scrabble. Thank you for sharing your story with me — as you probably see, it is all good in the end — had i not suffered as i did, i would not be able to “see” samsara for what it is — essentially dissatisfying — and would not now be on this path to moksha. I never forget that, especially when the going gets tough. Love, Mira
Very, very good – I’m so glad I read it. Thanks for sending, and now will someone please tell me the title of your novel?
Hello Katharine — thanks for the praise — it makes all the love and effort I put into my work so worth it. All the information you need to get your hands on *Whip of the Wild God *is right there on the blog — plus you can read the first three chapters on the blog itself for free – though the prologue and other interesting things are not included there. Mira
Writing from the soul, Mira. Your life and thinking are an excellent story and inspiration to so many of us who continually try to understand what our existence is all about. Let that process continue and bring more meaning to you!
Thanks Ronnie! From someone as soul-full as I believe you to be, that’s wonderful to hear! Check out the other posts when you can spare the time from your busy schedule….did you read The Spider & the Blue-Throated God? If you liked this, you would definitely like that! Love, Mira
Well said and well lived.
Thanks dear Gabriel!
Nice Mira, thank you for sharing. I will share it with my students as a multi-level model.
Perfect – that’s why I write – to spread the word that it is possible to rise above pain and find joy again…. lots of love, B, Mira
lovely… its obvious that all of these were steppings stones towards vichara… light and love always 🙂
yes, my km, of course you are right, and would see it like that….
Mira, in writing yourself sane, you are also helping us all to become more sane. Thank you.
You are far more than sane, Swamiji! You are….you are….I am lost for words….
How inspiring! Thanks you for sharing. Very well done.
Ramana, says somewhere to catch the first thought that comes to the mind in the morning.Thats how we can catch the little ‘self’ i believe.And may be mAy more mornings later the big ‘Self’ come out and shine.
Mira, I am full of admiration for you. Thanks for sharing something so personal in such a beautiful manner. You may not realize this but you are becoming a source of strength to many. You are truly gifted. Much love.
Anu-ji, thank you — that’s really one of the main intentions behind this blog — to share honestly and openly so that others feel free to open up and dump all the toxic waste we women in traditional societies hold on to, fearing what OTHER PEOPLE will say — I say — there are no other people — we are all One. Long ago, in my early post-divorce days in Manhattan, I was both shocked and pleased to discover that I was far from as unique as I thought I was! So many women had gone through much worse and had emerged radiant — and they were great inspirations to me — women who did not want to live in fear but in love with the source of life itself. Much love!
TY Mira for sharing the exeptionally fine communication skills through your polished writing ability. I loved your pace & vivid descriptions, telling us readers a snippet out of your most interesting life with such force and fervor. Peace,Joy,Happiness, through Master’s Blessing!!!! Ron P of KA.
Ron-ji, blessings back to you and thank you so much for your support — especially since you barely have enough time for this stuff given your intense schedule. Love, Mira
I remember some of those days. You have come a long long way अनुजा. Glad to hear that aspiration of partially burned hydrocarbons are out of your life.
we all have our demons, J-ji — and in a way i am glad mine were related to a substance – its the invisible demons — pride, arrogance, the inability to say sorry for all that we do to hurt ourselves and others — all stemming from the ego – that are the worst. would you agree?
Hey Mira! I look forward to your blog links — wonderful to have a small window into your world. Much love and hugs, Susan 🙂
Thanks for peeping in thru that window — btw, which Susan are you? I have two other friends who share your name. Much love back to you — Mira
Now I know it’s Suzy Marfield — much love and write with all your news when you can spare a moment from that busy schedule..
What can I say? I’m still going through the pain of seperation and betrayal. It’s been over a year since I found out about my cheating partner of 25 yrs (34 in total, as we dated for 9). I’m still finding my feet, though I’m a lot stronger than when I spoke to you last Dec. It’s been 3 months since he has moved out and I find the peace and quiet blissful! I’ve never lived alone in my life, this is a first and I am loving it and feel very liberated. It is hard though to deal with legal and other stuff and also trying to be civil to each other as we have 2 grown-up boys that we both love more than anything else. But reading your blog gives me courage and affirms in me the strength to persue what I want for myself and to repossess my identity that I lost.
Keep writing Mira and giving others hope and courage. Your style is so engrossing and beautiful…you definitely haven’t lost your wonderful creative streak!
Luv & hugs,
Sweetheart, all this ugly legal stuff will soon be over and soon you will begin to really settle down with yourself, Fear is what stops most women from leaving men who hurt and demean them, and you are a spiritual warrior for standing up for what is right for you. If you have not already, join a woman’s group — more than one — and make strong women (and men) friends who will support you thru thick and thin — you will be amazed at the horror stories you hear — all of which will ground you and make you grateful that things were not worse than they were. Focus on all that is good in your life — and I know there is a lot. Read PART I OF THE SPIDER AND THE BLUE-THROATED GOD — where that woman told me how to do a gratitude list. Simple and it works. Also try the Morning Pages — dump all the crap in your head every day on to the computer and don’t look back at it — it is just rubbish, meant to be burned so you can get on with your very precious life. Lots of love, Mira
This was beautiful. You have certainly come a long way. I will have to check out your books too 🙂 Keep at it, I love your style!
Thank you, Michelle! If you would like a free copy (pdf, not hard cover) of Whip of the Wild God, I would be happy to oblige. Send me another message and include your email, if so. Great to connect with a like-minded soul!
I just let you know in another message that I purchased it already, happy to support a talented writer 🙂
Wonderful! Hope you enjoy it, Michelle, and if you do, please let me know.