Enlightenment – One Word At A Time

Enlightenment: Insight, Understanding, Awareness

Last week we talked about how learning to sit in silence connects us to our bodies and all that is around us in a way that time spent surrounded by noise and outside stimulus cannot achieve. This week we look at what is around us, “out there,” and how learning to translate what we see to others using the vehicle of our writing not only makes our work come alive for us, but also for the reader.

If “enlightenment” is understanding and awareness, than surely the idea of “a blazing, red Camaro” conveys a more insightful picture than, “a red car.” Or, “a slice of warm apple pie just out of the oven, the scent of cinnamon and nutmeg filling the room,”  is sure to make your  mouth water rather than, “a piece of pie.” The same is true of all the senses: not just a flower, but the fragrance of lilac;” not just “a handshake,” but, “the feel of his calloused, work worn hand as he clasped mine in greeting.”

Feelings and emotions come into play here as well. It is not enough to say someone is sad: “She felt a great weight hanging around her heart as the tears streamed down her face.” Now that’s sad! “The baby wailed, her little face contorted in dismay as she was stuffed back into her billowy pink snowsuit.” There is no mistaking an unhappy baby in that sentence.

If we want to use writing as a tool to become more aware, more “enlightened,” than the old writing advice of “don’t tell me, show me” that my creative writing teacher wrote across my paper in high school still holds true. When I read a book, I don’t want to be told what happened. I want to experience it myself. I want to see it, hear it and feel it in every part of my being. The same can be said to be true when you are journaling. Where were you when such-and-such happened? What was going on around you? Was the sun shining or was it raining? Hot or cold? Did you feel thrilled and excited or let down and crushed? Don’t tell, show: “Was it my imagination, or did the sun seem brighter that day? Or, was I just that filled with joy that the whole world seemed lit up with happiness? The autumn colors seemed beyond bold, and the sky was so blue that it hurt my eyes.” That is a line from my own journal written the first morning I woke up in my new home. When I go back and read that entry years from now, I want to feel the way I felt that day instead of just reading a report of it.

This idea goes beyond the notion of attention to detail. It is using the gift of words to paint a picture that, like the masterpieces in the Louvre, beg you to stand before them and become lost in them, to feel them. That is not only writing at its best. It is living at its best, in full understanding and awareness of every sacred, precious, moment.

Blessings and peace.

This week’s writing assignment is ready to go on the home page. Let’s see how aware you can be.

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5 thoughts on “Enlightenment – One Word At A Time

  1. “Show me, don’t tell me.” I learned the value of that line from my 8th grade English teacher. As a writer, I cannot think of a better statement to lead the reader into my world. Come, join me in the kitchen, the timer is going off and I need to pull the cookie sheet of soft chocolate chip cookies out of the oven.

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