Let us be quicker to praise than to find fault.
DESMOND TUTU

Every morning I sit and consider “Right View” – right defined as skillful. “Right Intention” – defined as skillful intention. Some days I am fully aware that it is an effort of self-improvement, despite my wanting very much to give up that particular effort. My determination not to be “on a journey” – but rather be here: just shifting perspective as the world changes.

For over a decade now the Christmas season has been marked for me by a party a friend and her partner host this time of year. It isn’t your typical holiday gathering of interlocked friends: there is a brilliance to their tradition of inviting a core group of weak ties, and each year a few new faces. It’s positively “urban” in its inclusiveness. And as someone who borders on recluse, I find it relaxing.

The food follows in a similar vein: familiar (though hardly “traditional”) dishes and deliberately introduced new recipes. Near the end of the evening every year, M. plays the lacquered white piano and we sing carols.

These parties may be the only parties I have ever attended without feeling a pressure to secure my belonging, or wriggle into tightly-knit cliques by way of an interesting anecdote, or tactical compliment/question. I still don’t know how to do that, and am comfortably past trying, actually.

But this year there’ll be no seasonal gathering around dinner table and the piano. I feel the loss, and am trying to re-frame the fact. I am pulling back to identify the loss, and to appreciate exactly what was so very pleasant.

We aren’t supposed to cling to the pleasant, but I don’t think that precludes seeking to experience it. And maybe for the first time I am observing my passive social life, not in terms of an area for self-improvement, but as a potential for creativity.

I suppose in the self-help jargon the word is “agency”, but oh what connotations come with that: productiveness and goals. Not for me.

When the world pulls apart as it has, I am noticing the spaces between. The loose ties, the fluidity of interactions. My perspective has shifted.

Loosening the weave
potential in every thread
ever-new garments

We open the vents in the bedroom walls,  in the evenings before bedtime. We tug them by their coarse string leads, and they snap plastic tabs into place. We tug the same string in the mornings, and they close by the same action. Tug to open, tug to close. Snap. In the bedroom walls. Plastic tabs like child-proof latches. You can’t just pull; it requires the specific intention in the movement of a wrist. A now-familiar snap in the cartilage, like a plastic tab jolted into place.

I can’t sleep without the fresh air anymore. Maybe all those years sleeping in the unfinished loft made it so.  I cocoon myself in the duvet. I sink into the soft mattress, until it feels like being cradled in the sag of an army cot.

We move, and we rearrange: novelty, and the familiar.

we remake things much
as they were without a thought
closets basements lofts


 

The lamps are out along the second kilometre’s stretch of trail, and the moon intermittent between trees. I have to remember to lift my feet to avoid the dark rivulets that are indistinguishable from roots. The world flips inside out, and back again; and light rises from the greenhouses along the shore to the west.

an edge of orange
spill from the coast paints the moon
brown as the dirt we sow


please do not copy these drafts in their entirety – links are appreciated, however
all rights reserved, if there is still such a thing: © Ren Powell

This is one of a series of haibun based on morning runs along the same 6k route.