Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details

My side of the contract



Photo: David Campbell / http://www.GBCTours.com


My days, and my mind, are awash in scenes from 75 years ago as I navigate through my current fiction-in-progress.

Once again, I’ve been pondering that curious energetic contrast between those I see everywhere talking on phones and looking at their screens, and the mood of a time when people actually left a room when someone received a call, as a sign of respect and courtesy. EB pix Germany and more 499

No one could have imagined overhearing something so private — so singular, even. Because people only used a telephone when what they needed to share was of significance. I imagine people back then would have found it hard to imagine using one to distract yourself, or to try not to be alone with your own company. 

How can I miss a time I was never actually part of? And yet, I do; my soul does.

I love to linger in its slower, gentler rhythms as I attempt to shape story out of what I encounter within history and my self. I imagine many writers of historic fiction and nonfiction must do the same.

I appreciate anew the thoughts novelist Elizabeth Gilbert shared in an interview with Karen Bouris in Original Story:


Photo: Nelson Ashberger

“I think creativity is entirely a spiritual practice. It has defined my entire life to think of it that way. When I hear the way some people speak about their work, people who are in creative fields who either attack themselves, or attack their work, or treat it as a burden rather than a blessing, or treat it as something that needs to be fought and defeated and beaten. . . . There is a war that people go to with their creative path that is very unfamiliar to me. To me, it feels like a holy calling and one that I am grateful for.

… I was given a contract, and the contract is: ‘We are not going to tell you why, but we gave you this capacity. Your side of the contract is that you must devote yourself to this in the highest possible manner, you must approach it with the greatest respect, and you must give your whole self to this. And then we will work with you on making progress.’ That’s sort of what it feels like for me.”

The entire interview can be seen at http://www.dailygood.org/view.php?sid=413



4 thoughts on “My side of the contract

  1. Dear Phyllis, I love this writing. It is from my perspective a scared gift, the gift of creativity.
    To be treasured and used wisely with gratitude and appreciation to the God.

    Communications have changed. I left the room just the other day when someone received a call, respect indeed. Face to face, hand written notes and knowing someone is listening to you when holding a phone…rare, wonderful and cherished. A thank you card, birthday card and
    indeed a sympathy card mean so much, a remembrance in hand to hold and review in
    the future bringing memories to light. Prayerfully this will not be lost in the busyness of this world.
    Going to the post office should still have sweet rewards in those written intentions of love and time

  2. Thank you for this, Phyllis–

    I have tears in my eyes reading about “the contract of creativity.” It is a gift meant to be shared, and I never feel more useful or fulfilled than when I write. I know right away when the writing is good and when it stinks. I know when I am full of myself or when I am actually voicing a truth. The idea of the contract is frustrating yet wonderful–all we can do is be the best within the contract we’ve been given and keep it as clean and pure as possible.

    This, as so many of your writings, go straight to the heart.

  3. This resonates with how creativity feels to me. I make room for it, get up early for it, go to bed early, just to have those few precious minutes to write. Without the writing, without making that quiet space in which to pause, to open, to listen for that… thought… and the energy it brings with it as I put pen to paper, my day feels incomplete and out of balance. It’s not a thing for my spare time, nor is it a thing I approach with anything but fresh energy. It is definitely an integral part of my own spiritual process.

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