Another ‘Spontaneous Writing Booth’ poem:
When we are young
we come together so easily.
Of course, we are all growing
into our own bodies,
learning about life
from the Big Wide World
We share freely,
we speak more honestly.
Our hearts are more open.
And we are all thrown together in school –
a big pot of tiny humans, learning and growing.
We play together.
We grow up together.
We change and move apart.
We move on –
colleges, adventures, exploring, and meeting new people –
we are “young adults”, still not recognizing
the treasure of friendship.
Over the years, as our bodies reach full size
and we come into a life full of responsibility
and hard choices,
challenges and hard truths,
it slowly begins to dawn on us,
the power of those friendships.
The ones we have been lucky, and wise, enough
to hold onto
are especially dear – there is so much history.
We can connect like the innocent youths we were
We know each others back stories –
there is context.
At the same time,
we are learning a new process,
of coming together as adults.
How and where do we find “our people”,
the people we just feel natural, relaxed, comfortable,
and really Our Self with?
The people who, as my friend, Katie (she is one of those people) says,
“can show up at your house any time, day or night,
to visit, to share, it doesn’t matter what the house looks like,
doesn’t matter what you look like.”
They are always welcome,
and you are always accepted.
Those new friends are out there.
Do what you love, be who you are,
and you will find them.
This is the start of a series of poems inspired by Natalie Goldberg. In her wonderful (I am literally full of wonder as I read it) book ‘Writing Down the Bones’ (which I will be writing more about) is a chapter called ‘Spontaneous Writing Booths.’ She talks about wanting to contribute to her Zen Center’s summer festival so she set up a table and offered poems on request – you pick the topic, I write. Her rules: fill a single side of standard sized paper, no specific poetic format, no editing, no reading, just hand it over and move on to the next one. As she says:
With the writing booth there is the opportunity to be a great warrior: you must let go of everything as you write and then in handing it over to the customer. Whey you work that fast, there is a real loss of control.
Wow, I thought, this is a perfect way to get me out of the rut of writing about the same old familiar, safe things (my life) in the same old ways (self limiting and censored.) ‘Cuz losing control can be a good, even great, thing.
I imagine being given a word/phrase/concept by someone and off I go. It’s great fun, very free-ing. Part of the motivation is to get comfortable and loose enough with this that I can have a Spontaneous Writing Booth some day at a local community festival/event/gathering! Then my warrior will become stronger as I let the words, a little part of myself, go forever.
Most of the time I’ll not look back, but once in awhile, when I feel it, I’ll share. Here’s one:
The earth is fertile ground. In it are the rocks, sand, clay, bones, trash, fossils, organisms, other bugs, creatures, like hedgehogs, that live in there.
There are caves and caverns, there are ridges and holes where water runs, flows, or has dried up.
It is where we plant seeds and grow the fruits and vegetables that nourish us. Where flowers root and bloom.
Where little acorns and tree seeds get deposited by birds and plant themselves.
And in that fertile soil they take root and send up shoots. And over the years they grow big and tall.
We are fertile.
Our bodies, as women, are a place where the seed of humanity is planted, takes root, is nurtured for nine months, and then new life is born.
Our minds are fertile ground. The Big Wide Amazing Incredible Scary Hard Fantastic Beautiful Abundant Lacking Sad Juicy Ripe Awful Terror-ful Tremendous Vivid Bleak Tangible Untouchable Forgiving Tender World is planted in our mind, impressed on our Fertile Consciousness.
We experience it all and the soil of our mind is where some of it gets planted. It is up to us, consciously or unconsciously, to choose what gets planted and what just blows off in the wind.
Let’s pick the good stuff.
We can experience it all and let the stuff that doesn’t really help or matter go.
Just let it go.
That leaves plenty of room in the field, the fertile field of our consciousness, for us to plant healthy seeds that grow into strong, and flexible, trees and flowers. We can smell the flowers and admire their colors.
We can climb those trees, planted in our fertile soil, and see for miles and miles, the infinite horizon of life.
I read an article by Mark McGuinness in last month’s the 99 percent newsletter. It was a call to embrace your (noble) ambitions.I enjoyed it, visited Mark’s site, learned about his Creative Pathfinder online course, and signed on right away. How could I not? For one thing, the subject is one of my three central passions (along with holistic health and happiness): creativity. Plus the syllabus was overflowing with topics that examine creativity from every angle and as it relates to all major areas of life. And the majority of those areas are not being covered by any of my other channels of personal study . And they are all very important, to my development and success as a creator, and an entrepreneur. And, Mark is generously offering the course for free. I blocked off a two hour time slot for it each week. It was an easy decision and, four weeks in, I can say with conviction that it was a very smart decision.
One thing I was quickly reminded of is how much more beneficial ideas and guidance are when we try them out for ourselves (instead of just absorbing/consuming them.) Through the worksheets that accompany each lesson I am really digging in, deeply contemplating, and analyzing my life. That then leads beyond the page – putting ideas into action.
Each week I take away fresh and helpful insights and assign myself action items to further the growth. Here is a review of what I’ve learned, and what I am working on, through week 4. (This a six month course and I plan to do a monthly review.)
Topic = Life/Career Goals and Dreams
- Contemplating our goals and dreams is so important. Without that awareness of what we care most deeply about, life can start to feel meaningless. I do a thorough life review at the end of each year but this made me realize the value of checking in more regularly – it strengthens the vision.
- Looking back on the work I have done so far in life is something I had not done before. I gave quite a bit of time to this and found it quite powerful to see patterns of what makes me happy and unhappy in a role/work environment.
- Acknowledging that Big Dreams bring up fear, and that it is normal, made me feel less alone in that. Thinking through the worst-case-scenario made it clear that there is nothing to be scared of. There are always new options. And when we succeed? So worth the effort!
- Continue being mindful of which actions/projects/roles make me feel good and which do not.
Topic = Using, and Expanding, Your Gifts
- What are my signature talents? My natural gifts? I know this, and do think about it periodically. Now I see that keeping that awareness central keeps me confident and focused on finding ways to apply those talents/gifts.
- Keep learning! This is a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned, and Mark had some good suggestions for expanding our knowledge, beyond just reading books. This is something we should build into our schedule and it should take us outside of our comfort zones and attractions.
- I particularly liked the work around understanding who our tribes are and hadn’t explored this before.
- Make sure you know the motivations for what you do, especially when things get tough. Great idea to check in on that every day – it helps us stay focused and committed.
- Continue to develop my tribes: people/groups doing similar work, with similar interests, and with similar passions. And give thought to the ways I can share and contribute.
Topic = Your Creative Potential and Process
- I realized that I didn’t have a clear understanding of my natural daily rhythms. When am I most productive and at what? When is my energy highest and lowest? When do I lose focus and need a break? I spent several days observing myself at work and this was probably the most useful exercise so far. I now have a daily schedule that works in harmony with those natural rhythms and it is making me happier and more productive! Seemingly simple thing (that most of us don’t take the time to look at) – Big Payoff.
- Continue thinking about ways to collaborate and get feedback. Who/where are the people and what is the benefit for them?
Topic = Being Inspired, Being Challenged, and Practicing
- Yes – I need to get OUT more and experience what others are creating. I always get inspired at museums, galleries, performances, talks/readings and that inspiration is (necessary) food for our creative fire.
- Here we give more thought to the daily schedule and being more specific. I am now aware of my distractions and call myself out on them. Then I, gently but firmly, steer myself back on course/schedule (just like I’m learning to do in meditation practice!)
- And more emphasis on the importance of feedback.
- Schedule time for reading/commenting on blogs/sites related to my areas of work/interest/passion.
- Schedule regular cultural outings.
- Get my work Out There – share it and welcome/utilize feedback.
My favorite takeaway so far, and something I wrote out and refer to regularly now:
What can you do to make the biggest difference – and reap the greatest rewards?
1. It’s something only you can do – solving an unusual problem, or doing it in an unusual style, or both.
2. Because it’s so distinctive you can charge more than the next guy for it.
3. If you do it – and sell it – well enough, you don’t necessarily need to be ‘busy’ all day every day.
4. It’s in ‘the zone’ where you find your greatest fulfilment.
5. It’s a challenge that will fascinate you for the rest of your days.
Thank-you, Mark, for so generously sharing this great course!