Thursday, May 06, 2004

Hunting For The Elusive

May is the beginning of the annual spring hunt for the tasty yet elusive morel mushroom. And when I find it I'm rewarded first by the thrill of the find. Then, when I get home, I'm rewarded again when I relish one of the first tastes of spring.

Morels are mischievous. I can spot one 30 feet away, keeping my eye on it the entire time I'm moving towards it. And then, about the time I'm bending over to pick it, it disappears. I circle around the spot where I last saw it three or four times and then I walk away. When I turn back, there it is again. Once I sat down on a log to eat lunch. I swear I never moved from that log. I just sat, eating and enjoying the woods, and I must have been there at least 20 minutes. When I stood up to continue my hunt, there was one of those morel mushroom devils right between my feet.

It's wonderful to collect a bag full of morels. It's fun to count them and compare this year's harvest with last year's. But coming home with a large quantity of morels is just the product. It's really the process I enjoy so much. We think of our life as our accomplishments or products. But life is a process, not a product.

Chasing something elusive inside us is not all that different than hunting the morel. Sometimes we feel torn, out of sorts or puzzled and we seek the source of our confusion. We must go on the hunt and enjoy the process.

One of my favorite methods comes from Julia Cameron's book, The Right to Write. Cameron says to sit down with paper and pencil. Focus on what you find elusive. Ask and write down your question. Then before you analyze the question, just write the answer that comes to you. Don't sift through the answer. Just write. This answer will likely lead you to another question. Write that question and then let the answer that follows flow from you to the paper. Continue the process for about 30 minutes or until you feel done.

This is often enough to get to the delectable morsel you're seeking. Turn your back on the product, the outcome, and pay attention to enjoying the process, the hunt, and the elusive will present itself. It always does. Oh, and don't forget to reward yourself!

"Ideas are elusive, slippery things. Best to keep a pad of paper and a pencil at your bedside, so you can stab them during the night before they get away." ~Earl Nightingale

"The important thing is not to stop questioning." ~Albert Einstein

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