My Lunch with Melanie

We met for lunch at Café Red Onion. She ordered the spinach and goat cheese enchiladas. I ate the usual pupusas revueltas—fat cornmeal pancakes stuffed with shredded pork and other good things.

We talked about writing. Since that topic encompasses everything else that we both live and breathe, the conversation covered a lot of ground.

MelanieShe talked about inspiration and the nocturnal activities of her particular muse. There was a voice that came to her one night to dictate notes for years’ worth of writing projects. I speculated about the creative unconscious, the unknown workings of the mute machinery of our brains that collects, organizes, catalogs, and stores images, sounds, smells, emotions, and abstract ideas and then assembles them into dreams, long-term memories, and all the wonders of fantasy. I wondered why she was so eager to give the credit for her brilliance to something outside herself.

I told her about the lessons I was learning from helping other people figure out how not to hide their lights under bushels. She remarked that I seem to get better and better at giving advice without wasting a lot of time listening to what I’m saying.

I told her a long-winded story about losing weight and finding discipline, and of my endless quest to apply what I’d learned to my writing practice. Simple rules. Do something every day. Everything counts. And the new mantra that I’d picked up from a fitness podcast called Fat 2 Fit RadioIf you want to be fit, emulate the diet and habits of a fit person. Don’t promise you’ll eat better tomorrow or that you’ll go back to the gym next week.

There’s a broader lesson in that axiom, I think, for the writer, the artist, or anyone who aspires to do more, to be better, to claim his gift and follow its implications. When do you want it? Someday, or now? I gave her a homework assignment—write 400 words on the topic of our lunch date. She dared me to do the same. I carried the assignment home, took it for a seven-mile run around the park, and tucked it under my pillow when I went to bed. When the next work day was nearly done, I wrote this blog post. But I could have written only this:

Start living your life TODAY as the person that you ultimately want to be.

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