A wandering poet

 

The Korean poet Ko Un writes, everything outside my door/ is my teacher.

The force of poetry is a mystery; allowing words to dance lightly, acting as a poultice drawing out the depth and collision of my life. Everyday I need to make sense of the multitude of experiences and story.  I have been writing poems for years, under-estimating their power and healing quality. Poems come from the deep. Poems always surprise. Poetry breaks up and puts my life back together.

Poetry plays a special role in my writing life. My narrative skims across the surface; my poetry dives deep. It pulls me up and takes me away from the shore. Poetry taught me ontology before I knew it had a name. Poetry, you are my oars, my bark canoe as I lose sight of the shore.

What the poem translates, wrote Philippe Lacou-Labarthe, I propose we call experience, on condition that this word be taken literally … from Latin, experiri: the risky crossing … and this is why one can refer, strictly speaking, to a poetic existence.

 

 

Sometimes it takes me awhile aka I can be a bit slow on the uptake.

I love inspirational quotes. Always have. I sprinkle them freely, widely in speeches, writing, daily life and blogs. And I am always genuinely surprised if people comment on said liberal sprinkling. This is I suspect because I think it is normal, completely unnoticeable (is this a phrase?) or uncommentable (is that a word?). Or maybe, I am shocked that anyone is actually listening. I certainly never countenance the suggestion that I could be overdoing it.

So, when my eldest son, who is of great insight and wit, commented about said sprinkling of quotes throughout my parenting technique and general life advice, I was stopped in my tracks.

So Mum, he said, how many quotes does it take to live a good life?

Brilliant line, I’ll give him that. Called me out and stopped me in my tracks. So there I was, left standing there (does a line from a song count as a quote?) without a good quote or quick witted response at hand. After much laugher, genuine on my behalf I might add, I didn’t know what to say. I can be very literal you see and was trying to work out a number in reply. 10, 100, 1000?

So, a decade later, and I have finally worked out the response – As many as you are open to, honey.

Phew. I can leave the numbers to him (numbers not being my top thing) and I can convey the general ontological underpinnings of my approach. Inspirational quotes from the four corners of the globe and from the past are wisdom bubbling up from our collective consciousness and it is not so much in the speaking of them as the openness to listening.

It is still a very good line of his and I use it now as ‘a quote from my clever son’. It also reminds me gently to be the change I want to see in the world (Gandhi).

Yesterday we went round in circles

During a recent course, we sat and explored circular conversations: a conversation in the round, five minutes each, any topic, no interrupting, no questions – just listening, then onto the next person for their turn. We went round our circle of ten, three times and dug deeper each time. It was no surprise that we found ‘under every deep, a lower deep opens’ (thank you again R.W. Emerson). That night, I wrote this.

Yesterday,  we went round in circles .. deliberately, deeply, intentionally, meaningfully, beautifully. Yesterday, we all gathered closely and together we wandered in thick and thin places.

We spoke of many things and in the speaking we found the willingness to go to the edges of conversation, a confidence to dive into places hitherto unknown. We did the thing we had spoken of, we lived the learning we longed for. Our words dissolved in their inadequacies and then returned as breath. Willingness the thin became willingness the thick, the brave. Became the air that held us together as our viscous, sticky words lingered and dribbled between souls open to listening, waiting and sharing in turn.  Yesterday we teetered on diving pool edges and then went over.

And so we talked. Talked being and doing and head and heart; we mused and raged against such dichotomies; found hope in dragons and acceptance; discovered faith in energy and struggle and a skepticism for power, security and balance. There was space for our background and our foreground and the providence of accidents and truth. We honoured the barefacedness of our learning and named ourselves as conscious and unconscious gardeners, mulching and harvesting words, thoughts, experiences. Then, as soulful archeologists we dug into emerging, blurring layers, giving names, smiles and sighs to the wonders within.

We were delightfully unsure of boundaries as we lay in our net and played with our uncertainties. It no longer mattered whose thoughts, words were whose as we found meaning making meaning and thus gave birth to that which was spawned from the hummus of our communing.

Words as emergence, self as flow.

Emily Dickenson reminds us, The word is dead when it is said, some say / But I say, it just begins to live that day.

I have found that in each ‘word’ chosen there is a sacred becomingness. A becoming, at each and every articulated moment. A weaving of reality in the now and the becoming. Emergence.

John Shotter reminds me “that Goethe shows us there are mysteries we can ‘enter into’ and begin to find our ‘way around’, there is a ‘poetic’ way of talking and writing – what we may call ‘withness’ writing – we express what we find in our criss-cross journeying over often befogged landscapes. Ways of taking and writing are like signposts erected at recognisable landmarks, ‘pointing to’ what is next in the world of our everyday, practical affairs.”

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The poet Eric Ormsby knew this, when he wrote, I have the feeling that words lead a private existence of their own, apart from us, and that when we speak or write, especially in moments of strong emotion, we do little more than hitch a ride on some obliging syllable or accommodating phrase.

And from Fink,  language has a life of is own .. (and) while we have the feeling, much of the time, of choosing our words, at times they are chosen for us.

This is the power and the healing of journalling, of blogging. Words crafting, exploring, bringing out lived experience and insight.

Words allow me to know self as flow.

The road is made by walking

 

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Wanderer, your footsteps are the road, and nothing more;

wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking.

By walking one makes the road, and upon glancing behind one sees

the path that never will be trod again. Wanderer, there is no road

Only wakes upon the sea.

By Antonio Machado and with a warm nod to Paulo Freire.

The Writer as Migrant

I love Ha Jin’s Waiting. Poignant realism tugging at every heart string of my challenged existence. I am still musing on travel, writing and reflection and turn to The Writer as Migrant by Ha Jin.

In The Writer as Migrant, he wonders about the Ithaka’s we search for .. real and metaphysical .. “some Ithakas turn out to be different from what we expected, but we have wonderful journeys that enrich and enlighten us .. As we travel along, we should imagine how to rearrange the landscapes of our envisioned homelands.”

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Today’s pictures are brought to you by my companions and me on a track north of Broome, at a view in Petra, on a path on the SW English coastline, and in an alley in Damascus.