Natalie Goldberg Card #3

“I’m looking at…”

4 min readJan 22


Author photo 2023

“This is my wish for you: that you take these cards, grab the topic on one side and write, write, write . . . Remember no good or bad. Just words on the page.” Natalie Goldberg. Each card in this world-renowned author and zen teacher’s deck contains a writing topic on one side and a short lesson on the reverse, delivered in her honest, heartfelt urgency.

I’m going through them one by one.

Today, the ‘nudge’ is this: “I’m looking at…”

So I’m looking at the mess I make of things. I’m talking about the actual quantifiable mess I make when I walk in the room. It’s astonishing.

For example, just now I came up from downstairs and am sitting on the couch. I’m waiting for the garbage guys so I can give them their annual bonus. Before I got here, this room was spotless. The couch was clear except for the neatly folded fuzzy fleece blanket on its right shoulder. (Ruby lays on it at the window, keeping us safe from people who walk by, children on their way to school, cars, squirells, deliveries and especially the letter carrier.)

Just the couch, two pillows, the folded blanket, and Elena’s hiking boots neatly placed, near the door.

I’ve been here one minute. Sixty seconds. Now, my body leans against a couch pillow, and I’m looking at my legs, knees bent and tucked against the couch back, my poor little feet starting their voyage into old age — right toe recovering from growing into itself.

I’m looking at three envelopes with red bold permanent marker THANK YOU!s. Envelopes containing cash that is in no way enough to convey our gratitude for their back-breaking and unpleasant jobs — but which is all I could do this year. The envelopes started on top of the couch back, but now they’ve fallen, and so are strewn across my own torso as I write.

I’m looking at two other envelopes, one addressed to the IRS, the other to New York State.

I’m looking at a copy of my new poetry book that I’m sending to my son.

I’m looking at Into the Haunted Ground, my Tibetan teacher’s most recent book. He’s been my teacher for twenty-three years. And yet, I carry it around like a good luck charm . Poor Anam…




Novelist. Poet. Musician. Buddhist. Quilter. Animal lover. Visible grownup. Hidden child. Secret dancer when all alone. Makes good bread.