You know how some people do their best thinking in the shower? Well, that’s true for me. But I also do some good thinking when I’m driving, and when I’m a passenger and can just zone out and watch the world go by, and I also do some pretty damn good thinking in the sauna. Which is where I just came from.
While I was there melting away on the cedar benches I thought about something a very fine man, the Love Doctor, told me recently. He meets with patients for various ailments, but sometimes patients come in who really don’t have any health issues; they psychologically think themselves into seeking medical attention. They’re stunted, waiting for some medicinal cure, when they really just need to find their own direction. Almost like writer’s block, but with life.
So he asks them one question:
What are you doing to make the world a better place?
Stop and ask yourselves this same question.
It doesn’t have to be joining the Peace Corps or starting an orphanage. It can be something in your own world, or the worlds of the people you care about–the universe of your life. (Although, a few months ago I did register for a Volunteer Vacation, which will be this summer! So excited!)
Does it mean finding fulfilling work? Making a happy home for your kids? Recycling? Not killing a spider crawling along your bedroom ceiling and instead capturing it and setting it free outside? (Okay, spider fear took me years to get over. Then I moved down south and they’re the size of my face!)
What about your writing? Is the content of your poetry enlightening others’ lives? Maybe you’re writing a novel with a social message you hope will make the world a better place. Perhaps you’re writing an article that will improve someone’s life in some way. Maybe you’re writing a screenplay that will make people smile and laugh. Or maybe you’re writing a friend a letter, something to remind them of their significance.
There are so many things being written, created, homogenized and pushed in our faces that the world, the Internet, our minds and ourselves are polluted from it all. Our lives are littered with meaningless words. It makes the rare occasions when genuine words surface all the more special.
When I was in the sauna, laying there and roasting in the heat, one other woman was in there fully clothed (Why?), listening to her iPod, and “reading” a magazine while texting on her iPhone. Not even in the sauna, the little wooden cocoon I love to sequester away in, far removed from anything and everything in the world, where it’s too hot to write, edit, revise, could I find a reprieve. But it is in the sauna, the temporary casket where I like to think I release and bury toxins, the sweat of a day writing, I hope that at least a word or two has made the world a better place.