The Nuance of Words

Natalie Goldberg, a Zen practitioner and professional writer, exhorts would-be authors and leisurely writers to just put pen to paper. Even if one feels empty, vacuous or blocked, the act of putting pen to paper may stimulate an unforeseen piece.

This is great counsel. I respect that she said “pen to paper” rather than “finger to keyboard.” That distinction resonates with me because that is how I wrote my book and also how I write my blog posts. Many times, I have experienced emptiness, merely writing random words and then – voila! – the words start flowing and something real and coherent appears. It doesn’t happen all the time but enough to appreciate Ms. Goldberg’s sage advice.

I often ruminate on words because it can lead me down paths of insights not previously contemplated. A compelling example is the difference in the words “detachment” and “non-attachment.” They are related, yet connotate a world of difference. Detachment means a withdrawal from something or not being involved in life, sometimes even signifying a form of depression. Non-attachment reflects the ability to be in this world but not of it. It is the ability to be truthful and engage in work or service without holding onto, or being attached to, the results of one’s efforts. It is a form of yoga – karma yoga – famously practiced by Gandhi and exalted in the Bhagavad Gita, though similar concepts are in all major spiritual practices.

If you believe in the veracity of the Zen proverb “change is the changeless” then non-attachment is the way to thrive and grow.

I conclude this post by thanking those who read Oh Mercy! There have been some updates on my blog and one can now order my book through Amazon or Paypal by clicking on

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