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I am in the third week of a writing class via The Loft - Minneapolis's literary society. I wanted to take a course titled "How does Terry Pratchett do that?" but it was canceled do to low enrollment. So after browsing through the catalog, determined to sign up for something, I chose a course on inspirational writing. It isn't as sappy as I thought. The teacher has a lot of great suggestions for framing a work, moving the reader through it and relaying ideas, revelations, and realizations to them. Today she kept hammering the importance of starting at the beginning - before the transforming experience - as well as including the actual experience and the result. If the reader doesn't know where you are coming from, he or she won't be able to relate to the piece. Of course we also talk about engaging the senses, using alliteration, pace and poignancy. I think my favorite challenge is to universalize more of my personal essays. That is what I'll work on this week. Last week I took an old blog entry and tweaked it a bit, giving it more body and structure:

The Big Picture
At the end of an ordinary day I volunteered, taking tickets, in order to see the Wailin’ Jenny’s a Canadian trio. Standing at the back of the auditorium, listening to three ordinary looking women with extraordinary voices, suddenly my mind stopped. Granted I do that – pause my mind and step out of the situation - all the time. I do so on purpose when I meditate and during my walk to work. Other times it happens accidentally like today when I was biking home and absorbing the weak light emanating from the gray skies. However, just like Jack Kornfield promised, sometimes – not always, but sometimes – when we stop bits of wisdom poke through without us even trying.
During this pause I realized that this is IT. I have been in the “in-between-space? for a year and a half now. Life doesn’t start when I leave the country, it doesn’t wait until I live with my family and definitely not when I meet “Mr. right?. Life is being with right now, whether it is a Mr., a friend, a concert, or a job. This is tough to comprehend as a goal-oriented person in a goal-oriented culture with goal-oriented friends and family.
Life is going to awesome concerts for free because I volunteer, it is getting a bitchin’ personal tour of the Capital and learning a bit more Minnesota History (and politics), a sweet bike ride home on a warm gray day. Life is sharing a movie with two girlfriends and chuckling about naked-cowboys with wicked grins over free margaritas afterwards. It is going to the same job for the 350th time. It is finishing one book and starting another, trying to share the book, an awesome ginger jam, or a personal problem with friends. It is getting over old-loves and wondering about future ones. This is life. It will be the same whether I am in India, England or the Czech Republic.
Life is also feeling three steps behind all the time. It is Dukkha, the feeling of being out of place, of always missing a note or being slightly out of tune. It is the hopes and dreams that when I leave this planet I will leave the world a better place – perhaps I won’t get as much done as Eleanor Roosevelt did but if I am a happier person in the meantime I will be fine with this. Even after all the places I have been, all the adventures I have experienced. None is ever more difficult than the present.
And so I listen to the ladies sing, my mind reeling, and a sly but self-contented smile on my face. Existence is so much pleasanter when you occasionally get a glimpse of the big picture.

To read the original blog entry - click here.

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