Yesterday I was listless, sitting at my desk, trying to brainstorm topics to write for this month’s post. It wasn’t that I lacked ideas, but they all felt so plebeian in light of what’s happening out there. So I stared at a blank document, for a long time. I went for a walk and returned to the document, and stared. For a long time. What did I usually write about, I kept asking myself. How can I share where I am in my writing life in a way that’s meaningful, now, today, amidst all of this—when I can’t even write? Finally, I began—where each day should always begin—with a gratitude list.
Right now, I’m:
- learning to be patient again, or better or longer
- teaching my kids in inventive ways and seeing their minds expand
- enjoying nature in a way I haven’t in a long time
- appreciating technology and the way it keeps me connected to the people I love
- reading books like mad from my TBR list
- forgiving myself if the words don’t come, or come very slowly
- witnessing heroism and generosity of spirit from so many, in so many glorious ways
And witnessing one of those moments of generosity yesterday is what inspired this post. After I swallowed a lump in my throat, I went looking for beauty. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that I found beauty where I often shelter, and find solace.
In the words.
I went to my shelves and pulled out several volumes of poetry I’d long since neglected. I used to read it most nights before bed for many years, but with a busy life and so much competing for my attention, I’d abandoned it. As I cracked volume after volume, I realized how much I needed this lost ritual. Yesterday, I spent hours reading poetry, from many different poets. Startling, beautiful, soul-filling poetry, and suddenly, I couldn’t wait to write. (I also ordered 3 new volumes to be delivered, pronto.)
Normally, I’d share a list of tips to help us use poetry in our writing, whether it be to infuse the story with some underlining symbolism, or to learn the weight of each word. To strengthen our craft by practicing wordplay. Instead, today, I’d like to share a few little pieces of beauty I found. I hope they bring you joy or inspire thought or encourage you to reread your favorite passages in your favorite books so you, too, will be filled up again and turn to your own pages to do what we love best. To write.
An excerpt from:
A Brave and Startling Truth by Maya Angelou
We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines
As a Child I Walked by Jewel Kilcher
As a child I walked
with noisy fingers
along the hemline
of so many meadows
shock of sky
I’d sit on logs like pulpits
listen to the sermon
and find god in Simplicity,
there amongst the dandelion
Auguries of Innocence by William Blake
To see the world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower;
Hold infinity in your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
Bond and Free by Robert Frost
Love has earth to which she clings
With hills and circling arms about—
Wall within wall to shut fear out.
But Thought has need of no such things,
For Thought has a pair of dauntless wings.
On snow and sand and surf, I see
Where Love has left a printed trace
With straining in the world’s embrace.
And such is Love and glad to be.
But Thought has shaken his ankles free.
Thought cleaves the interstellar gloom
And sits in Sirius’ disc all night,
Till day makes him retrace his flight,
With smell of burning on every plume,
Back past the sun to an earthly room.
His gains in heaven are what they are.
Yet some say Love by being thrall
And simply staying possesses all
In several beauty that Thought fares far
To find fused in another star.
And lastly, I leave you with a little poem that expresses a sentiment that I’m willing to bet everyone at our beloved community at Writer Unboxed feels deeply as storytellers.
A Book by Emily Dickinson
THERE is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any courses like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!
What are you grateful for these dark days, or what is inspiring you, whether it be in writing or some other creative outlet? Perhaps the inspiration is merely to brave another day in an uncertain world.