Most Wednesdays (or thereabouts) I’ve been recording a Curiosity Journal to recap the previous week using these tag words: reading, playing, learning, reacting and writing. Sometimes I mix up the order, just to keep you on your toes.
On the schedule this afternoon: photography and haikus (see “Learning” below).
From the chapter entitled “Moon Shell” from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea:
Certain springs are tapped only when we are alone. The artist knows he must be alone to create; the writer, to work out his thoughts; the musician, to compose; the saint, to pray. But women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves: that firm strand which will be the indispensable center of a whole web of human relationships. She must find that inner stillness which Charles Morgan describes as “the stilling of the soul within the activities of the mind and body so that it might be still as the axis of a revolving wheel is still.” (Lindbergh 50-51)
How to find this stillness and solitude? Is it as easy as finding some spot to sit alone for a few minutes, or hiring someone to watch the kids in order to escape to a park? For those women who work at an office, must they preserve a lunch hour strictly devoted to time alone?
Perhaps, though Lindbergh suggests something I have found to be true, as well—that solitude and stillness begin inside:
The problem is not entirely in finding the room of one’s one, the time alone, difficult and necessary as this is. The problem is more how to still the soul in the midst of its activities. In fact, the problem is how to feed the soul. (51)
Woman’s life today is tending more and more toward the state of what William James describes so well in the German word, “Zerrissenheit—torn to pieces-hood.” She cannot live perpetually in “Zerrissenheit.” She will be shattered into a thousand pieces. on the contrary, she must consciously encourage those pursuits which oppose the centrifugal forces of today. Quiet time alone, contemplation, prayer, music, a centering line of thought or reading, of study or work. It can be physical or intellectual or artistic, any creative life proceeding from oneself. It need not be an enormous project or a great work. But it should be something of one’s own. (55-56)
Three deadlines loom—but what an honor to have deadlines, for that means someone wants my words!
Thanks to the good people at Tweetspeak Poetry, we know exactly how to write a haiku. So, no excuses, right? I expect to see some haikus in the comments below. Or over at Tweetspeak, if you prefer. You know you want to try your hand at one…
When Mr. Rogers died ten years ago, I wrote a poem. In honor of his passing, I am republishing it, slightly edited, today:
Today in the Neighborhood
February 27, 2003
I wonder if my mother sighed today
when she set down the paper.
I wonder if she wept,
Someone died today.
Someone who provided Mom with
half an hour of freedom,
whose soothing voice filled the living room
of our house on Duffey Street
and freed my mom to read a mystery,
work on her newspaper column,
or take a shower.
Mr. Rogers died today.
who zipped up his sweater
five days a week,
offering comfort and security
during the tumult of the late ‘60s and ’70s
when I was small and needed someone
to show me how to tie my shoes
sit in a dentist’s chair,
and feed the goldfish.
He trolleyed me away
from the low rumble
of my father’s frustration
Mr. Rogers was a friend to me
and to my mother,
a woman tending her children
while composing a career
in spite of a husband who never
changed a diaper
or stirred spaghetti
or understood her need to pour words onto paper.
offered her, too, comfort and security
in a tumultuous life
by creating space.
Mr. Rogers smiled at my mom each morning
as I stopped peppering her with questions
about tornadoes and tadpoles
and settled down on the gray carpet
or the green vinyl chair.
Maybe she smiled at the screen,
Maybe she whispered, “Thank you,”
as she retreated to the bedroom
or the kitchen table
for a moment of quiet
with a ballpoint pen,
a blank notebook,
and a mug of coffee.
Mr. Rogers was a friend to us both.
But I wonder today, on this day he died,
if he somehow meant more to my mom
who was reaching for identity
through the lifeline of writing
while teaching two young children to read
from flashcards she made by hand
and flipped for us to practice
until we spouted “happy” and “sad”
and “you” and “me”
© 2003 Ann Kroeker
Revised February 27, 2013
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Work Cited: Lindbergh, Anne Morrow. Gift from the Sea. New York: Pantheon Books, 1975. Print.