Let’s say you have been looking at that wilderness of the blank page for a while now. Or maybe you have moved away from the page, the cliche of the blank page, and now just look out windows, at the sky. This, too, is okay. You will go on.
“In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing.”
—Vincent Van Gogh
“You must go on. I can't go on. I'll go on.”
― Samuel Beckett
Do you see what I mean?
Let’s start by looking at the landscape. Let’s enter into contemplation. This is Merton, in his journals:
“How beautiful it was last evening with a longer interval after supper. The sun was higher than it usually is in that interval, and I saw the country in a light that I usually do not see. The low-slanting rays picked out the foliage of the trees and highlighted a new wheat field against the dark curtain of woods on the knobs that were in shadow. Deep peace. Sheep on the slopes behind the sheep barn. The new trellises in the novitiate garden leaning and sagging. A cardinal singing suddenly in the walnut tree, and piles of fragrant logs all around the woodshed, waiting to be cut in bad weather.
I looked at all this in great tranquility, with my soul and spirit quiet. For me landscape seems to be important for contemplation. Anyway, I have no scruples about loving it.”
He also says:
“There is only one way to peace: be reconciled that of yourself you are what you are, and it might not be especially magnificent, what you are!”
I suppose this last part might not seem especially encouraging, but I find it to be so. I’m not especially magnificent. But one goes on. We are what we are. And we must make the best of what gifts we are given.
Merton also says that it’s not necessary to write a book.
“...it is not necessary to write a book. Or anything else.
One is free to keep a notebook. That is sufficient.
One may write or not write. Therefore one may write."
“Either you look at the universe as a very poor creation out of which no one can make anything, or you look at your own life and your own part in the universe as infinitely rich, full of inexhaustible interest, opening out into infinity further possibilities for study and contemplation and praise.”
Merton talks about wanting to write everything. But “that does not mean to write a book that covers everything – that would be impossible. But a book into which everything can go. A book with a little of everything that creates itself out of everything. That has its own life. A faithful book. I no longer look at it as a “book.””
Have no scruples in loving what you love. Write in your notebook. That is, for now, sufficient.
Try not to censor yourself. Write everything. Remember that your own very small observances are of inexhaustible interest.