In the past day’s reading of several favourite blogs, a few threads of thought shimmered and held my attention enough to ponder and weave together here…
In Transactions with Beauty, my friend Shawna Lemay shared as one of her “20 Things that Might Be Helpful,” the notion from Hafiz that our efforts are not insignificant…that through our humble efforts – none of which are irrelevant nor too important – finding the balance we add to the universe. I love this and gleaned the settling reassurance of being and doing “enough.” Thank you, Shawna, and our beloved Hafiz. Most definitely helpful.
This spun together with Robin Wall Kimmerer, her words imbued with beauty and the wisdom of her ancestors. Cited in another newsletter, she shared the teaching that by “paying” attention we give in return for the gifts we receive from Earth. As one who notices, a lot, this deeply resonated. I could take for granted such a simple gesture, but she reminds me it is an act profound precisely because our attention is fast becoming a limited resource, pulled in many directions and insidiously whittled away by myriad distractions. The question then is to what am I paying attention, and how or what does this attention serve and enliven?
My virtual friend Helen, over at Ageless Possibilities, shared her “October Reflections,” the year past and current. Closing with an invitation by way of questions – Do you do an annual reflection on changes in your life? Do you consider what has remained the same? And does that impact your life decisions? – I realized how in the last couple of weeks I’d been casually reflecting on my new vocation as writer-poet, and healthy pastime, my game of pickleball.
Despite a slow start to my game this summer, on the courts I saw how I’d developed in consistently serving well, handling the speed of a volley at the kitchen line, accurately placing more offensive shots, and in making more and better low and backhand shots. Yes, it’s still a fluke if I return a banger or a slam. The third shot drop still eludes me. And one day’s play can vary from the next. Despite saying at the outset of taking up the game several summers ago, that this would be the perfect practice for kindness – I falter, often, especially with myself. That’s why it’s called “practice,” I remind myself.
In the past year my writing efforts have borne fruits: poems published in two anthologies; writing the foreward and poetry for another; invitations to read at open mic events; my co-editing and featured writing “gig” at Sageing: The Journal of Creative Aging; and preparing a sixty poem manuscript for publication. It comes…word by word…line by line. And though reluctant to call myself “poet,” I know deep in my bones, poet is who and what I am, not just on the page, but in how I live my life.
“…attention generates wonder, which generates more attention … Paying attention to the more-than-human world doesn’t lead only to amazement; it leads also to acknowledgment of pain. Open and attentive, we see and feel equally the beauty and the wounds… Paying attention to suffering sharpens our ability to respond. To be responsible.”Robin Wall Kimmerer
While travelling earlier this month, I had a dream which gently guided me to registering for an eight week dive into “rewilding mythology.” In all honesty I have no idea what this is. But host, Sophie Strand, and several of the faculty intrigue and have piqued my sense of wonder, intuiting this will deepen my attention to the “more-than-human world,” and sharpen my ability to notice and respond. Next weekend I’ll travel to Calgary to sit in the presence of and learn from of a beloved poet, Pádraig Ó Tuama, someone I’ve mentioned here for his Poetry Unbound podcast. And in December I’ll participate in a poetry intensive with Alberta poet Alice Major, to learn about aligning my poems into the arc of a collection.
If the “job of a human is to learn,” I’m at least part-time employed. Revisiting my slogan – “making prayer, poetry, and beauty is holy alchemy for social change” – I trust my efforts – neither irrelevant nor too important – are adding to the universe. I trust yours are adding, too.
Much love and kindest regards, dear friends.