What I Mean By Staying Open

is 4,444 steps up to the top of the cliff.

4,444 steep steps. And about halfway up, someone has carved into the wood, “Now, you’re tired.”

But you have to push on. Because the alternative is going down the 4,444 steep steps, which is a frightful thought.


So you keep moving.

There are two distinct moments in my life that I recall – where I thought realised: “Now: I am happy.”

It wasn’t on this day.

In fact, neither day was a day where I felt that I had accomplished anything. That isn’t to say there weren’t days where I was overjoyed. Proud. Happy, in my experiences.

But on these two occasions: one, quietly driving home from work, planning dinner for my two small children and my (then) husband; the other, sitting on the couch in my own apartment, my kids grown and living elsewhere, my life comfortably poised for something new – I felt a slow wave of emotion, like settling into a pool of warm water. A conscious pause, halfway up a staircase, looking around and enjoying the view, the breeze, the feeling of muscles slightly torn and strengthening. Realising that, time was not standing still. Things were good now, but they would change, and even that was a good thing. The way things are supposed to be.

This feeling is my definition of gratitude. It involves an element of submission, an acceptance and appreciation. It is lying in Savasana, palms up and open.

And it’s letting go.

It’s about letting go of contexts mostly. Definitions of myself, and definitions of my perceptions.

I have a fear of growing old. Not growing older, mind you. I am mostly fine with that. It’s the rigidness that some people take on with age. They close down on their experiences. Solve the puzzles for themselves (and, they think, everyone else). Form opinions. They stop reading the article after the author gets to a point with which they disagree. They are afraid to push themselves, to tear all those muscle fibers just a bit.

“Now, you’re tired.” It’s a taunt. Keep going. Because it is a really bad idea to stay there, resting until darkness takes you. And an even worse idea to head back down the way you came. That soreness in your legs, is just them getting stronger.

The Long Form

I’ve only read three books so far this year.

20150718_183402“Busy”,  yes. But I’ve promised myself not to use that word anymore. I am not busier than I choose to be, and how I choose to be busy with my time (consciously or not) is my responsibility.

I’ve read that our attention spans have shortened to 8 seconds. I remember reading that. The headline promised 5 ways to deal with that fact. So I’m sure I skimmed down to the numbers. The bullet points.

But I don’t remember any of them.

I find myself simultaneously offended by, and drawn to articles with numbered lists. While it is true that I have always had a thing for exact numbers (my poems can testify to that), this is different. This is the speed-reading of our culture. Power Points. Facebook articles, shared and discussed on the basis of a headline. (At least, that appears to be the case on my feed. People sometimes admitting they don’t have time to read the article, but they’d like to add that…).

5 Things I’ve Been Doing All Wrong

1. Using Facebook to provide superficial feelings of belonging/approval
2. Surfing through the social feeds as a procrastination tool (to avoid working on projects that might carry with them the possibility of failure)
3. Not reading a single point of view for more than two minutes
4. Not thinking about a single subject for a more than five. Not ruminating – meditating – arguing (with myself)
5. Not trusting myself to move slowly and deliberately among the big ideas

It’s time to devote more time to Arts & Letters Daily. To full articles. Books. The Long Form.


I googled the article. I was wrong. There are 3 ways to deal with it:

(in reverse order)

3. Avoid electronic devices
My typewriter, despite valiant efforts by my son, is still busted. I am a lefty. Ink smears. Want more excuses?

2. Exercise
Seriously? The explanation: “Men who were part of a Spanish cycling team responded seven percent much faster than the less fit group in a computerized task.”
Anyone else seeing some serious logical gaps here?

1. Drink More Fluids
Wait. This one works for me. There are three bottles of wine in the kitchen.

I’m going to grab a glass of merlot and a book, and go read in bed. Next up: The Adventures of Henry Thoreau by Michael Sims. I’ve been looking forward to this. 
I have more than five minutes before bedtime.



Morning Poses

a morning sequence to find
the softness – the belly
of time passing moorish and rich
smelling of what we fear

the giving in, the giving over

the giving

In the Landscape

Ruth Stone said something to the effect that finding the poem is sometimes catching it by the tail as it passes by. (Elisabeth Gilbert, TEDtalk)

Before it moves on, through the landscape.

DSC_0065And this is familiar to me.
I recognise the existence of these creatures. I’ve heard them. Felt them brush against me. I’ve sensed them, teasing and wanting to be caught.

But they can be intimidating. Like dragons.
Sometimes speaking languages I don’t know. Or
demanding specific words, like knives, that I’m afraid to touch.

And during those times when I am not writing – the weeks
or years – I watch their shimmering from a distance

with an increasing balm of solitude.

There is always the promise of
the winter shore, the tiny
individual bubbles rising from the sand as the tide pulls out
desperate and hopeful
elusive, while unquestionably present
in whispers, soft with sighs.

Mountain Pose

A., at 12 months, doesn’t know he is standing. His weight is rocking on roundish soles, in a constant momentum, around a shifting center, while his conscious thoughts appear to be focused exclusively on the wrapping paper in his hands.

Maybe we aren’t meant to think about our feet. Not meant to flatten them against the earth, making conscious contact with the ground. The weight, and the sinking into our bodies, into the earth in Mountain Pose…

Maybe the gurus have it all wrong.

Maybe it is also about getting to know the wrapping paper and letting the rest go with the momentum.