*This was published in the Spring/Summer 2015 issue of EPA Today.*
You don’t hear about Buddhists starting fights at a bar.
“I kept the career, but didn’t get the girl,” Michael laughs.
Sitting in front of me, Michael looks relaxed and at ease with a touch of embarrassment as he makes fun of his past attempts to romance girls with love letters. One of them still has his letter because she just likes to read it—a touching gesture, especially for a writer.
Michael Uhila caught the writing bug when his 5th grade teacher, Ms. Johnson, picked his essay on Frederick Douglas as the best one in the class. “Maybe I’m onto something,” he thought.
Since then, Michael has continued writing essays and poetry. In fact, he self-published a book of poetry. “It was surreal,” he says about the moment when he received his book in the mail. Like many other writers, Michael was under the impression that publishing a book was much more difficult.
To eliminate the pressure, he set a simple goal for himself: write one page everyday. Before he knew it, he had compiled about 300 poems.
He also tried not to focus too much on writing an entire book (which can be overwhelming for a writer), but rather on the process—one poem at a time.
Where do his inspirations come from? “Some of my best stuff comes from just observing,” he says. He described a typical scenario: “You’re out socializing, but you’re not really socializing. You’re observing.” Any situation, person, or place can become part of his next piece of writing.
“Writing is a lonely job,” he admits, “You like to spend a lot of time by yourself.” This, of course, doesn’t mean that he’s not capable of socializing. “I can socialize,” he smiles.
When he’s not busy finding material for his next poem or essay, Michael likes to play the drums and most recently started playing the guitar. He even sings. “People buy you drinks if you’re good at singing,” he laughs. Friday nights are karaoke nights in Redwood City.
To keep himself balanced, Michael meditates every morning. He is part of meditation groups in Mountain View and Stanford.
“You don’t hear about Buddhists starting fights in a bar,” Michael points out. After reading more about the religion and attending several retreats, Michael was convinced that this way of peaceful living was the right path for him. He became a Buddhist in 2012.
When asked what advice he has to offer to readers, he responded with these wise words: “Check your motivation. Why are you doing it?” He also added that “If you don’t wanna do anything then just stop. Trust your gut.”