A Poem about Spring
(from Within My Illusions)
The birds are chattering
outside my window again.
A hundred thousand shades
of green paint the canyon
against a cloud-gray background.
Signs of life emerging by the minute
And I had been burrowed so deep
I didn’t see the red, red, redbuds budding.
Now their branches are full flower.
Now mountain laurel’s
luscious purple blossoms
droop like bunches of grapes
and smell as sweet.
Can I savor their fragrance
before it becomes ordinary?
Before youth gives way to maturity?
I am not surprised by the first butterfly
that lands in my garden,
but I had forgotten about the bluebonnets.
It was the daisy that reminded me:
Beauty lies dormant beneath
the crusty surface of winter.
I recently restarted a daily writing practice called morning pages. I first learned about morning pages fourteen years ago when I participated in a workshop based on Julia Cameron's Artist Way course. At the time, I was in the early stages of recovering my creative self. I hadn't yet started writing poetry, and I certainly didn't consider myself to be an artist in any way, shape, or form. But I was in a stuck place in my life and I supposed that doing something different and new might help me feel less stuck.
Morning pages are an essential component of the course, a commitment to writing three pages of longhand stream of consciousness first thing in the day. The point isn’t the writing. It's to let unfiltered ideas, thoughts, and images move and be heard. It's about surfacing, illuminating, and clearing. My morning pages were often filled with the early morning angst, fear, and sorrow that had become my norm. Some days I’d write two and a half pages of the same word or phrase over and over and over and then in the very bottom of the third page, a new thought would pop in. Sometimes, I'd discover up to a nugget wisdom or clarity. Most days, I just wrote my pages, closed the journal and moved on with my day.
Over the course of weeks and months (I continued with morning pages for about a year after the course ended), the practice seemed to shift something in me. More and more in my pages, a sort of voiceless voice would enter the conversation. This voice felt like an ally who was there to offer me comfort, reassurance, and guidance. Over time, I realized that this voice was just as much a part of me as the angst was.
I've come back to the morning pages practice periodically when I feel a little crusty. And at the beginning of March, I made a personal commitment to three months of the practice. Most days, my pages start with I'm tired and continue with three pages of illegible gibberish. But one day this week, the first words that flowed from my pen were I am grateful for…
…a spacious morning, a short wait at the medical center, coffee, humans on the path, collaboration, the raccoon who reminds me that my scraps are another’s feast, graceful movement, stepping back, stepping in…
Then, I started listing all of the people in my life I am grateful for, which turned out to be everyone—past, present, and future—whether we’d had a fleeting or enduring relationship, whether we will meet in this lifetime or not. I filled one page and another with I am grateful for and I am grateful for and I am grateful for. Each note of appreciation seemed to inspire the next. By the time I reached the end of the third page, I looked back at this garden that had sprouted from inside me. It had been just below the surface, and I forgot to notice.
With wishes for seeds of gratitude to flourish and sprout in you and within all life everywhere, and an invitation to join an upcoming online event (details below).