“…a day that begins with your own appointment with silence, with attention, with welcome.” — Kim Stafford
One month ago, I embarked on a new morning journal practice that I plan to continue. Write the date, a recollection, an aphorism, and a poem attempt. This advice comes from Oregon Poet Laureate Kim Stafford’s small book, Meditations and Poems for Writers. In fact, the practice is one that Stafford learned from his father, the esteemed poet William Stafford.
Flipping back through the scrawled entries in my 4″ X 6″ notebook, I am intrigued how an aphorism flows from a recollection and sometimes into a poem attempt. Kim Stafford defines the aphorism as applied by his father as a “freestanding sentence, an idea, a question, a note about the pattern he perceived, a puzzle.”
The trick of the entire morning practice is to keep that pen going and remove the left brain editor (the one crying out “This is terrible! You have nothing to say!”) and welcome the right brain creative muse–along with a sense of humor. Often, I sit by the woodstove with our morning fire and the regular breathing of our sleeping little black labrador Pepper at my feet. The steady wind of flames with an occasional pop and the awakening dawn of pines through the window facilitate a meditative start to the day. Harder is the practice when traveling.
I’m choosing a selection of aphorisms to share, because that’s a new and unusual way of writing for me–and puts me right up against the feared cliches and Hallmark greetings that are the bane of every writer. So. Deep breath. Remove that left brain critic! Be brave. Ready? With gratitude to Kim Stafford….
Where one set of eyes sees imperfection and blight, the other sees perfection and health. (for ecologists)
Attend birds and know community.
To be kind in a mean world, look to the forest.
To know when to say yes and when to say no, look to your heart.
Every day is eventful if we pay attention with all senses firing.
Home is where the heart of the wild outdoors merges with the indoors.
A tiny seed holds immensity, if planted and nourished.
To find home and haven, surround yourself with unconditional love and love unconditionally.
When a tree root grows and encounters a rock, the root grows around the rock and gains strength from the rock. (this one I credit to my yoga teacher and friend Petit)
To hover like a kingfisher is to pause our beating hearts long enough to remind us we are alive.
Lucid dreams make the impossible possible.
All who wish to fly have wings in their hearts.
The sunshine and rainbows girl dances into the fury of storm to catch the light.
To take shelter from the storm is to keep our heads dry and our hearts safe.
Gratitude is an endless circle with the earth always the circle.
Energy is best when focused and not scattered too far and too weak to make a positive difference.
When life feels amorphous, paint your living room and bedroom, too.
To love another is to “see” another as you say the words, “I love you.” (credit to yoga teacher and friend Petit)
Every day is an adventure for those who experience every day wonders.
If one could pick the weather, choose the storm that pulses with glimmers of sunshine.
When faced with uncertainty, turn always to the flight of birds and the seasonal rhythms of all that returns and all that renews.
Speak my truth for the wilds and the wildlife that depend upon people willing to step up.
Note: If any of the above aphorisms speak to you, please take them as my gift to you of the season. I would love to read your own aphorisms, too…please comment, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll post if that’s easier!