Even though New England has been getting its fair share of torrential rain this summer, my blogging has been in a dry spell. It’s not exactly that I haven’t had things to say, and it’s not exactly that I haven’t had time to write. It’s more like I haven’t been able to coordinate these things so I have “things to say” when I find “time to write,” and that adds up to many days without blog posts.

Coffee cup

It’s not the first time I’ve had the blog-blahs, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I’ve been writing long enough to know that sometimes, you run out of things to say (or at least it feels that way); I’ve also practiced (and taught) Zen meditation long enough to know that sometimes, you go “dry” in your practice (or at least it feels that way). New writers and new meditators often think these dry spells are a sign they’re doing something wrong: “Maybe I’m not really cut out to be a writer,” or “I tried meditating once, but it didn’t work for me.” What new writers or meditators don’t know–the sole secret we seasoned veterans have figured out–is that it doesn’t matter whether it feels like you’re “doing it right”: you just keep trying anyway.

Empty tables

I can’t call this current bout of blog-blahs “writer’s block” since I’ve been faithfully writing in my journal nearly every day, and there have been many times when a dry spell has completely derailed that practice. And I can’t call this current bout of blog-blahs a “spiritual crisis” since I’ve experienced a recent renewal in my meditation practice, coming back to my cushion to meditate regularly after too many months of practicing only sporadically. So in everything but my blogging, life has been stable and healthy; indeed, I’ve wondered whether this current blog-block is caused by the happy fact that everything right now is going fairly well with me, and there’s not much narrative excitement in a blog-post that duly reports “I finished grading those midterms,” “I made enough money last month to cover my bills,” or “I accomplished almost all the items on yesterday’s to-do list.”

Zorn Dining Commons

In other words, this bloggish dry spell happens at a time when I’ve comfortably settled, for the moment, into Normal Life. Every year as August approaches, my heart reminds me it’s my anniversary of independence: today marks four years since my then-husband and I separated, a personal milestone I usually mark by blogging some sort of State of the Psyche address. This year, I don’t feel I have anything significantly new or different to add from last year: perhaps one way that shock settles into stability is the way that ultimately, you stop counting the months, minutes, or years between Then and Now. These days, I don’t feel particularly mindful of the fact that it’s been four rather than three years since my separation and divorce; these days, apart from an occasional slip where I use my married name, I can almost trick myself into thinking it was someone else, not me, who was once married.

Spruce and Sky

And yet, interestingly, one lesson I learned from my almost thirteen-year marriage is one I’ve heard echoed recently by my still-married friends: relationships, too, have their dry spells, and the seasoned veterans who stay married somehow figure out how to wait them out. Although my ex-husband and I eventually called it a day, what kept us married for almost thirteen years–and what kept us trying to be decent human beings to one another even down to the day we separated, and after–was a shared commitment to keep trying, anyway. Even if you’re not doing marriage “right”–even if you’ve determined, at long last, to call it quits for good–you keep showing up to that realization: you face it rather than fleeing from it…or already having fled too many times and for too long, you keep coming back.

Fire alarm

Perhaps the twin mottos of “keep trying anyway” and “keep coming back” are the motivational bookends that embrace successful writing, Zen practice, and human relationships alike. Even if you think you’re doing it wrong, keep trying anyway. When you’ve all but given up, keep coming back: if this page, this moment, or this relationship eludes you, just show up for the next one. Did yesterday’s page of writing really stink? Keep trying to write a page today. Did you fail even to show up on your meditation cushion, again? Keep coming back, regardless of how often or how long you’ve gone AWOL. Did your last relationship fail, or does your current relationship (marriage, friendship, other) feel dry and routine, beset with a terminal case of ho-hum? Keep trying anyway, and keep coming back: in a word, just show up. Dry spells come and dry spells go, or as my grandfather used to say, “Marriage is easy; it’s just the first fifty years that are hard.” Even if a dry spell lingers, even that dustiness can be grist for the mill.