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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Why Vultures Lie in Wait, and Deepak Chopra’s Law of Least Effort

I grew up believing that STRIVING towards goals and feeling DRIVEN in one’s passions were necessary components of success. They can also be exhausting components of success.  The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success

Deepak Chopra, in his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, talks about the Law of Least Effort. “Nature’s intelligence functions with effortless ease…this is the principle of least action, of no resistance.”

But what of all those long tedious hours of writing and rewriting? What of all the hours spent networking, following up leads, peaking under every stone for missed opportunities?

The carrion-eating vultures I encounter on early-morning hikes got me to thinking that maybe Deepak Chopra is right. “Grass doesn’t try to grow, it just grows,” he tells us. “Birds don’t try to fly, they fly.”  Turkey Vulture Unfurlling Morning Wings

Vultures are “least effort” opportunists, willing to watch and wait, poking their bald red heads into putrefying places and coming up with enough to feed themselves and their not-too-picky young. Patient enough to wait—yet dedicated enough to spend long hours in the sky, catching updraft after updraft.

Vultures are also creatures of habit. The vultures that live on my home mountain wake up early, fly to their favorite granite outcropping, and patiently wait for the sun to rise so that they can dry the dew from their wing feathers. This patient ritual pays homage to the sun. They stand still as statues, slowly spreading their 6-foot expanse of wing, looking prayerful as the sun’s warmth sinks into their bones. Turkey Vulture warming wings

But stories don’t write themselves. Writers can’t just sit and wait. So what can we learn from Deepak’s Law of Least Effort?

“Think of your physical body as a device for controlling energy,” Chopra writes, “it can generate, store, and expend energy.”

Maybe the vultures aren’t just drying the dew from their wings, maybe they’re storing sun power. Have you ever arisen early in the morning and gone outside with a book you’ve been meaning to read for years finally tucked under your arm? Basked in its warmth for an hour or two, soaking up every beautifully described scene, every graceful turn of phrase?

When we SIT WITH ANOTHER AUTHOR’S WORK, fully present, still as a statue, we are gathering up the energy we will need to write our own story. Think of every beautiful book you’ve ever read as energy stored within you, patiently waiting to be reshaped into a new story, a new truth. Gratitude for the work of others releases this stored energy and allows it to flow almost effortlessly into our work.

Dedicate at least ten minutes a day to standing in awe of what someone else has written. Feel the fullness it brings. Then spread your wings and get out there and find your stories.  

Turkey Vulture Taking Flight cropped

Soaring is an important part of scavenging, and dedication to one’s goals is not the same as exhaustive striving or feeling driven. Dedication is more like prayer, a product of the heart, not the head.