The Dynamic Present - Writing Into Understanding

The Dynamic Present

It seemed like a good idea. I was 19 and always wanted a horse. I could get $200 for my car and buy the horse for exactly that amount. Done. I made the deal.

We walked her away from the farm down the road towards our house. She was a beautiful Palamino mare. Her year old colt whinnied and ran along the fence as we walked out of sight. My heart skipped a beat at the sight of that young colt. Little did I realize then what a long ride it is to the grocery store on a horse.

The present moment, the dynamic present. We make decisions. Things happen.  And now, we look back, from the slant of fifty plus years. Scan those years. Reflect on those stories. They are part of the tapestry of this dynamic present, today.

Paradox. The stories are gone and melted into eternity. Nothing matters from that time. Yet our memories contain the images, feelings, thoughts. We are made up of all the moments and stories for the long stretch of our lives. To revisit them years later gives texture and depth. Part of the work of life over fifty, says Carl Jung, is to review and reflect upon our lives. From my perspective of Chinese medicine for many years, the work is also to digest our life experience and integrate it into our dynamic present.

A few years ago, when my daughter was 19, she moved into an apartment in NYC and was to commute by subway to Hunter College.  It was a new experience for her and she had to budget her money.  Within a few weeks in the new place she called me one day to say she was lonely.  That was the set up for the next bit of news which was that she bought a guinea pig, along with a cage and all that goes with owning the pet.

She said, “I don’t care if I’m hungry. It makes me happy to have her.”  The next day she bought another one to keep the first one company.  It took me about a week. Then, I mused about what I was doing at age 19. Oh yes, I sold my car and bought a horse. Hmm. I guess I should be grateful for the guinea pigs.

In most Pivot Point programs I use writing to access images and memories. Writing in the moment, with other people, gives a way to retrieve stories from our lives. We recall a specific time with as much detail as possible. We trust that the images that arise in response to the prompt are no accident. They are part of the tapestry of ourlives. To relive them is to put a piece into the puzzle without the need to know exactly what it means. Then we share what we’ve written. Listening itself is a practice. 

With time to reflect, time to share and to listen, we slow down inside and discover avenues to illumination. I have used writing exercises for years in these programs, recently with the addition of refinements gleaned from training in the Gateless method. 

And here comes the paradox. The past is as alive in us as the present. How easily a vivid memory arises when prompted. To enter into recollection with attention to detail is to quiet the mind and pay attention. With curiosity we can explore the meaning of our lives, in part through the experience of recalled events and how they connect to the dynamic present.


Check out The Tools and Tasks Ten Session Series that starts in September. Writing plays an important part in this series. Also, in each of the five seasons there is a two hour writing workshop based on the emotion of the season. Join me, the next one is August 28.