WHERE I’M WRITING FROM: Writing in the spaces between breathing

I'm writing from the space between breaths.

It's something I've been working on lately, staying in the moment, staying mindful of every breath.

It's harder than you think, especially when you're crammed inside a Honda Pilot with your wife and two kids (both under the age of 6) on a 16-hour car ride to Winter Park, Colo.

When we get there, I'll have to shake the rust off my skiing skill set, just like I've had to work to get back into a state of mindfulness. I got really into Zen seven or so years ago. Back when I was coaching football and more stressed than I'd ever been.

It started with a book I found secondhand at a local Goodwill. The book was "The Way of Zen" by Alan Watts. After I read it, I found more of his lectures online and listened to them while walking barefoot in my backyard.

A few days later, I was back in my cap and whistle, teaching high school boys how to pass set and properly employ a forearm shiver.

Mindfulness made me a better coach. I'm now hoping it will make me a better father.

I've spent the last five years of my life chasing a dream, consumed by the burning desire to publish a novel. After that goal came to pass, I felt somewhat like the greyhound who'd caught the mechanical rabbit.

You know what happens to greyhounds after they catch that rabbit, right?

Well, I'm not done running. There are still plenty of books left in me, but I'm starting to realize I don't have to run all the time.

Laura Lippman, journalist and bestselling detective-fiction-novel author, told me this once: "A field needs time to lie fallow. The same is true of an author." When Laura speaks, I listen, which is why, just as soon as I finish this column, I will not work on anything writing related over the next six days.

I will still be practicing my mindfulness, though, focusing on each breath, listening actively to my kids, watching in wonderment as they gaze upon the Rocky Mountains and take their first trip down the bunny slopes.

There will, of course, be snags along the way. They'll hate getting in and out of their ski gear. Their fingers and toes will get cold.

We've had a doozy of a first day on the road already, complete with a trip to two different tire shops, but we're still rolling. We just made it through Salina, Kan. The kids like the windmills. My son said they looked like dinosaurs, and I heard him. I didn't miss that line.

That's the goal for this trip and all the trips that are to come: Don't miss a thing.

Eli Cranor is an Arkansas author whose debut novel, "Don't Know Tough," is available wherever books are sold. He can be reached using the "Contact" page at elicranor.com and found on Twitter @elicranor.

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