This morning’s bay was full of eagles. Laboured flyers, they fly in a “flap, flap, flap–glide” manner. I interpret the flaps as the purposeful, thinking mode, and the glide as a period of less commitment but continued progress. Later in the morning, the eagles are at great altitude, soaring effortlessly. ~ Robert Genn*
I feel like my blogging journey so far has echoed the flap, flap, flapping part of the eagle flight described so beautifully above. I post, I visit other blogs, I investigate links, I comment, I read comments, reply to comments, reply to comments on my own blog and somewhere in there, I glide and smile and my spirit soars when the connections form.
But then it’s back to the flap, flap, flapping and among all the seeds being planted, I’ve been forgetting to feed myself.
I’ve been missing my children – in the same house as them, but missing them. I’ve been missing my garden and the birds that flit in and out of the laurel bushes outside my kitchen window. I need to see birds, to become the birds I watch.
I miss writing, too. Absorbed, totally engaged writing. One of my favourite forms of expression is haiku, but I haven’t been able to write those recently. When I write haiku – and I use the word loosely, for mine don’t follow the classic rules – I need to be still, to simply be. And many of my longer pieces grow out of simple haiku.
I once became so involved with the robin who lives in my garden that I grew to feel he symbolises all of life itself:
a robin appears
stops, breathes, hops along the fence
drops, pecks some crumbs, goes
I wrote the following poem last week as I was driving through the hills on my way home from the supermarket. This scene is exactly what I saw. Until I got it down on paper, I didn’t realise quite how much it revealed about how I was feeling.
a small bird flying
with a long, fat, dangling worm ~
a hawk hovering
The sound and rhythm are regular and steady in the first line – like the beating of wings – but an awkward, heavy struggling happens in the second line, which sinks towards the end. On re-reading this, I suddenly realised how troubled I’ve been by my growing obsession with blogging and its time consuming demands, by the constant undercurrent of feeding that pervades so many blogs. By the constant feeling of I must keep going or else…
What I love about writing within the framework of haiku is that it makes me feel the life in the life of things, allows me to become the world I’m observing. It helps me see, feel, hear, touch, taste and smell the world in a way that connects me to it and to the people who are reliving my experiences when they read a few of my words. When I’m completely absorbed, I become that experience so all I need to do is show it to you and you become it too.
Only the essence of the moment can make its way in. No similes, no explanations. No heavy handed “This is how you should feel.”
I write haiku constantly. I love the simple juxtaposition – or merging – of sensual perceptions, and I find the restrictions, especially the counting of syllables, very liberating. Our lives are short, but the simpler they are, the more we appreciate the essence of all we contain, all we become.
For years I wrote short poems about nature, my daily life, the seasons, the world around me, never having studied the classic haiku masters. I’d only been taught the three line, 5-7-5 syllables ‘rule’ at school and was told to stick to images that evoke a feeling.
I wrote incessantly about cicada song when I was in Greece, entranced by the way a gust of wind in the olive groves would suddenly silence them. I felt that if only I could recreate the throbbing sound of their singing, I could capture some of the shimmering essence of summer, of love and of life itself.
It was only later that I realised that life is in the shedding of skins, the continual singing of the song, the continual bonding with what you’re trying to express. I’ve grown to realise that the moment is no longer there by the time you’ve captured it.
When I discovered the symbolism in haiku and related forms, the meaning attributed to a thousand elements of nature, the seasons and human life, my enjoyment of reading the haiku classics heightened.
Suddenly, my obsession with small birds and flowers, shells and cicadas and the symbols and details of our everyday lives didn’t seem so trivial. I felt connected to everyone who’d ever loved a robin or felt the throbbing pulse of cicadas in the heat of summer. I think I would have enjoyed a quiet seat next to Zen master, Basho, who wrote this:
the stillness —
soaking into stones
Try looking away from your screen right now and writing three short lines that show the world you’re experiencing, that make it come alive for us. (Follow the 5 -7 -5 syllable structure if it helps, but it’s not strictly necessary in English. )