Tuesday, December 28, 2010

IN WHICH THE POET TAKES A MOMENT TO STAND AND STARE AND IS GREATLY REWARDED

§


On Christmas Day I found myself running around the kitchen from about nine o'clock, preparing for the Big Meal. By mid-day I needed to go out to the compost and before I came back in the house I stood on the deck taking pictures of the yard which was glowing in the often uncharacteristic (for this time of year) sunshine. The odd car went past on the road and I got into artist date mode, trying to catch the cars as they appeared, briefly, at the end of the driveway. After a bit a Steller's Jay appeared on the feeder, but it was only after I took the pictures off my camera and put them on the computer that I discovered this one. No cars, but as it says on a post-it note on my friend's bathroom mirror, you never know when you're having good luck. 



Here he is, moments later, with a black oil sunflower seed in his beak. The Jays like this feeder because they can get at the contents, unlike the tube feeders in the back yard where the chickadees and finch hang out.

Artist dates are one of the things Julia Cameron would have you do for yourself when you're attempting to follow the tenets of her 1992 The Artist's Way — A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self, a book I mention because it was one of the first things Ted gave me. We both got into it at Christmas, 16 years ago. We wrote morning pages every day for about two years and credit the process with helping us decide to get married. I don't know why I stopped—wandered off down another path, I suppose, but I still miss doing them sometimes and I do try to remember to have artist dates, and when I do my camera is usually involved. 

Julia describes the Artist Date as "a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you" and when I was introduced to the concept I actually found it quite difficult. Now, not so much. Morning Pages are "three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning." You'd be amazed at what you can sort out with this approach. 

My computer got testy and had to go off to hospital for almost a week, which meant I didn't get a new blog post done before Christmas, and now it's over for another year and New Year's Eve isn't far off. 

While it's unlikely to happen any time soon, I wish for a gentler, more compassionate world in 2011. As a species we humans seem to have gotten off the rails in many ways. 

May our elected officials practice the time-honoured art of listening to their constituents and to each other before they mouth off. 

May we treat others in this world the way we'd like to be treated ourselves. 

May we all remember to stand and stare once in awhile.

I don't usually bother making New Year's resolutions, but this year I resolve to be more proactive when it comes to getting my poetry out into the world, and to that end I'm happy to report that I currently have a total of 32 poems out there, sitting on someone's desk waiting to be looked at. (If even one of them gets a favourable nod I'll be pleased, for that is what it means to be a poet these days, at least for this one).

I resolve to have a yard sale when the weather permits and get rid of a lot of extraneous stuff that's taking up too much space in my life. Simplicity attracts me, but at the same time I'm a junior hoarder. (Have you seen that show on TV? I'm not as bad as the people they feature, but I definitely can appreciate how they got started).

I resolve to be nicer to telemarketers when they call, even though it's dinner time and even though I'm pretty sure our number is on the so-called "Do Not Call" list, for they have to put food on their tables, too. I shall continue to uphold my policy of not agreeing to do anything over the phone. There's no point encouraging them.

To all of you who drop in here from time to time I wish a contemplative, creative New Year, with as much health and wealth as you can muster.

See you next year!

And as this is, after all, primarily a poetry blog, let's have a look at that poem I alluded to, by William Henry Davies, who self-published his first book of poetry in 1905. 

LEISURE

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare. 


Words to live by in the coming year, I'm sure.

§

1 comment:

Rafferty Records makes you sexy said...

actually now that I see the bird picture on here, I remember that I did see it last time I visited your blog. On Facebook it's cropped and didn't look familiar. I prefer it less cropped, I think. It's so cool, with the light coming through the wings, what a great shot.

This is my first time commenting here! What a horrible son you have.