Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Poetry Challenge

I was an English major, belonged to an off-campus poetry group, and wrote a poem nightly for the first few years after graduation. I am not sure when I stopped. All I know is that I have written only a handful of poems in recent years.

This month I have been participating in a poetry challenge. Each day the moderator gives us our topic or form, and we are to create a poem and post it.

My first surprise was how much emotion I had bottled up. I wrote my first poem and cried. Since then I have had many mornings of releasing long pent up feelings.

My Tai Chi friend Elizabeth regularly participates in poetry slams, unfortunately I only see her briefly when her class ends and Liuhebafa begins. For the first two weeks of the month I couldn’t connect with her to tell her about the challenge. As I waved my hand weakly in her direction, I told a number of other women about the challenge. What surprised me was how interested they were. I hadn’t expected that at all.

Poetry feels so new to me. I supposed it is another example of “Beginner’s Mind.” One of the many things I am enjoying is how my attention has been changing. I pay more attention to small sensory experiences. I notice a squirrel, the details of a cup, the juxtaposition of objects in the lawn. I have been reading novels by Christopher Fowler lately and am amazed how small details draw me into his stories. The same technique is true for poetry writing.

I think we all need something like the poetry challenge. Too often we feel impotent in our lives. The latest news story is the Swine Flu Pandemic. We can feel totally powerless. “Wash your hands.” Yea, right. I literally had someone sneeze in my face earlier this winter. But when I wrote my first Sestina this morning, I felt powerful. Maybe I only felt that way for an hour, but I felt it. I am sure my immune system, my emotions, and my fight or flight reflex felt that too. I will miss the challenge once the month ends.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!

Christopher Fowler has a fun quote in The Water Room. An 80+ year old detective has been sloshing through water, trying to solve a series of murders during one of the wettest periods in London’s history:
Global Warming. We’re getting pissed on night and day just so mums can drop kids off in SUV’s.

For many people, Global Warming really didn’t register in their brains until we began to experience all the wacky weather around the world.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Atmosphere for Change

I found this wonderful quote in Why Talking Is Not Enough, by Susan Page:
…people change, not in an atmosphere of criticism, complaining, or demanding, but in an atmosphere of love and support.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sympathy for Pain

While I was shopping at a large grocery store yesterday, a small child screamed at the top of his little lungs. He would have put many an opera singer to shame with his lung capacity. We could hear him throughout the store. The sound literally hurt our ears. I had to move a few aisles down just to get away from him, and he was already several aisles away from me. A woman near me said that she was getting a head ache.

The mother stayed calm. She didn’t yell, slap or threaten him. She didn’t take him out of the store. At one point she did apologize that he was a bit cranky because he hadn’t had his nap. In retrospect I wonder whether he had mild autism or a physical problem that was fueling this huge surge of sheer emotional expression: “I am in pain, and you will all know it!!!”

Yet many of us have known the pain that the child expressed. My childhood classmate Susan expresses the pain of losing her husband so well in the blog that she has been keeping for over a year. My friend Lyn just keeps on getting sick, her only way of expressing the pain of seeing our friend John deteriorate from dementia. I know the night terrors of waking up at 2:00 in the morning and thinking life cannot possibly worth all the hassle. I can add to that all the people I know who have chronic health conditions that leave them in considerable pain.

I wish I could have been the white knight on the horse and rescued the mother. I know a tiny bit about some acupressure techniques that could have calmed him down for a bit, but I am just learning how to do them on myself. I wouldn’t have known where to start on someone else. I sent up a little prayer instead. At the same time I felt the little boy was screaming for all of us in the store, expressing the pain that we so seldom can.