Existential Loneliness

polarbear2.jpg

This painting had an evolution…it started off as three women disco dancers, then two polar bears, then a single polar bear with a different landscape and now this rendition.  Finally, I wrote the following sonnet on the canvas as a part of the background in the meadow.  It’s not meant to be legible, only a design element.

One cold night at the beginning of another long winter in the mountains of northern California, I fell into that state of existential loneliness.  I happened to have this painting in process on the wall in front of me.  My own loneliness expanded to include the polar bear at the north pole.  I considered his solitary life, that his habitat is dissolving due to global warming.  There is the real possibility of his extinction.  In writing this sonnet, I connected to the polar bear and as a result, I felt less lonely.
Is that the secret to existential loneliness–to expand our circle to include more of the life that is?

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© by Christine O’Brien

It’s cold and I’m alone again, at night.
The stars, so far away, no comfort there.
Is the polar bear aware of its plight?
Ice floes are melting, does anyone care?

Across the tundra the northern lights dance;
radiant colors blast the starry sky.
If we change our ways, would he have a chance?
“Global warming; couldn’t be helped,” we sigh.

We’re safe in our cozy habitats, home.
The borders of our lives within these walls.
The far arctic circle, his place to roam
outside of our range, his frozen cry falls.

What’s it to us, a whole species demise?
Could it have gone better if we’d been wise?

Permissive Poetry

An intrinsic premise of poetry is the permission and freedom to TELL THE TRUTH!

When I first began writing poetry, I was in a state of unrest.  Old inner worlds were crumbling as new ones were being born.  What I had built my life structure upon was proving false.  What was trying to form was insubstantial and unknown.

Poetry can chart the course between what is known
and what is unknown.

Do you think this statement is true?  It isn’t the route for everyone, but it certainly has been the permission-giver for me.

In those days, while I might not speak my truth to my husband or father (both of whom inspired fear), I found I could write it (finally) in my journals.  And then, poetry entered my life.  A form that could hold both emotion and unravelling beliefs and the uncertainty of what was next.  Pretty amazing.  And it could do all of this in a succinct way!

Throughout known history, poetry has been the “go to” for sensitive souls.  The minstrels were the storytellers, often in rhyme or rhythm.  The poets were the sensitive touchstones of a particular era and culture.  They could talk about what was right, wrong, intolerable both personally and in the context of the larger society.

Poets and artists are the heart of any culture or era.  They are the sensitive underbelly and resonate with deepest feeling and often, what the culture needs to embody or embrace in order to healthfully evolve.

Writing Prompt:
This is my perception of permissive poetry.  Has poetry, whether you read it or write it yourself, given you permission to tell the truth?

artinaworldinperil

Grounding

From the waist down, imagine your body like a tree trunk.  Grow your roots downward, down, down.  Let these roots sink into the very core of the earth.  Through this grounding cord, release what doesn’t serve you.  Bring up the healing energy of the earth through the soles of your feet, up through your legs and thighs to your tailbone.  Then, loop it down again through the grounding cord.  You are connected.  Overhead, stream down the light of the heavens through your crown chakra and downward through your central channel, downward once again through your grounding cord into the earth.  Align yourself and be in your own center.

Visualizations such as this one taught by Wendy De Rosa, author and teacher, are so helpful in claiming and reclaiming one’s inner balance in chaotic times.

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Writing poetry is another way to get grounded.  Poetry taps into the present.  What are you feeling?  What do you need?  Where are you NOW?  What are you doing NOW?  Poetry lends presence to something that needs your attention in the moment.

To be effective as a grounding tool for your thoughts and feelings,  you have to spend time with poetry.
I’ve noted this before–that haiku is a poetic form that invokes presence.  Each haiku stands alone–a complete expression.  Yesterday morning, I wrote these:

I wake to sunrise
Quail Ridge defined by treetops
Can I trust this day?

To be present now
To cut loose from old trauma
To see this sunrise.

Yesterday’s smoke gone
The body a lightning rod
Remember to ground

Treetops etch the sky
Grateful to see a far ridge
Breath is a wonder

Newly awake, I
feel the bittersweet uprise
of wordless feelings.

Bitter with the sweet
a favorite chocolate treat
I savor it now

There is no one way
To be a human being
There is you…and me

Accepting what is
I turn from yesterday–past.
Have I learned from it?

Writing Prompt:
How do you get grounded when there is chaos?
Is it working for you?
Have you tried the grounding technique above?
Have you tried poetry?
Share what you have learned about grounding.

Call Back the Bees

His feet are shod with gauze,
His helmet is of gold;
His breast, a single onyx
With chrysoprase, inlaid.

verse from Emily Dickinson’s poem, The Bee

It’s been in the news for several years now…that we are losing our honey bee colonies.  In some parts of the world, humans hand-pollinate the fruit-bearing trees due to the loss of bee populations.  One big reason for this loss is the use of pesticides.  The resultant disease is called Colony Collapse Disorder.Sunflowerwithbee..jpg

In late spring, I revel when I see bees pollinating my 100 year old cherry tree.  When I stand close, I hear the hum of bees doing their work.  I love the sound of this “machinery.”  I also love to see bees dallying in the bed of sunflowers or anywhere in my garden.  Everything feels right with the world on these special days.

Even if you think you are honey bee savvy, take two-and-a-half minutes to watch this short youtube about this amazing and necessary insect.  I learned something new.

Writing Prompt:
What can you do to “call back the honey bees?”  Write a poem perhaps?  Then share it.

 

The Versatility of Poetry

This is one reason I love poetry.  It can hold any subject.  Poetry is both amorphous and  it can claim a form.  It’s a perfect container for a variety of human expression.

the fog weaves through city streets
in and out of the avenues
twining round golden gate bridge towers
dampening moods and refreshing spirits
what season is it, I ask
summer you say, summer in San Francisco
coaxing one to build a fire on the hearth and cuddle
fog deceiving one into false seasons
Is it love I feel for you or
simply lust
long shrouded desire
and you the sun that penetrated my dark nights
stripping me of my clothes, my inhibitions,
tricking my hormones into believing I was unseasonal
everlasting
and so sexy

© by Christine O’Brien

In this short verse excerpted from a poem I wrote entitled Weather Report, notice how a story is told using place and mood.

Were you drawn into the story via the setting?

Each and every poem has a point of entry.  As does any story.  The writer and/or poet gets to decide what that entry point is.

Writer’s Prompt:
Experiment with using a place as the point of entry to your own poem as you write about an emotion you are feeling.

Follow the flow of your writing.

 

Living with Uncertainty

Uncertainty (Senryu) 

A poem by Mihaela Pirjol

Life Promises Change
Morphing humans’ destinies:–
Make no promises!

A few nights ago, there was a community meeting conducted by the local law enforcement and fire protection agencies.  The hall at the city park was full to capacity.  Living in smoky northern California for the past two months, gives us a sense of urgency.  And uncertainty.  And stress.

There is a fire southwest of us, gratefully not too close.  However, we were urged to be ready to evacuate in a moment if we get a Code Red Alert.  Today I’m planning on getting the necessary supplies together–three gallons of water, three-days supply of non-perishable food, clothing, valuables, a security box with important papers, first aid kit, flashlight, batteries, radio run on batteries, etc.

My stomach gets nervous thinking about the possibility.  Yet, isn’t life always unpredictable?  Obviously, there are times when the routine is disrupted.  However, emergencies or preparation for an emergency situation really throws this in one’s face.  The old boy scout motto “be prepared” comes to mind.

We live our daily lives with the unspoken trust and hope that there is a tomorrow.
While we also live it as if tomorrow might not come.  That, my friend, takes great faith.

Writing Prompt:
Senryu is a type of haiku. Like haiku, it is  a 3-line unrhymed Japanese poem with 5-7-5 syllables per line.  The difference is that it treats human nature in an ironic vein.
Try writing a few senryu on uncertainty.  Share them under comments if you like.

Who Do You Consult for Wisdom?

Truthfully, my parents weren’t my wisdom teachers, except perhaps through reversal.  And, reversal offers us some powerful lessons.  I didn’t go to them for guidance.  Throughout my life, I’ve gleaned wisdom from my own experience and through books and other teachers.

In contemplating who I consult for Wisdom, I discovered the term Wisdom Poetry.  It is  defined as “the type of poetry that contains some sort of moral or lesson, often written by an ancient scholar.”  Wisdom poetry is more of a theme rather than a branch of poetry itself.

Wisdom is sometimes personified, elusive creature that she can be.  Is she within?  Or dwelling in a cave on a mountain top far from where I live.  Tibet?  Nepal?  Or is she in the desert?  Zimbabwe?  Xanadu?  In the sky?  If only I could pinpoint the place, might I then be able to visit it, if only in my imagination?  Can I access her through my dreams?  Does he have a long white beard?  Do his eyes stare beyond the horizons of our own limited sight?

Is wisdom cumulative…I have these experiences and I hopefully learn from them.  I think that “real” wisdom is born of experience and that we integrate the lessons learned into how we live our daily lives.  And, perhaps wisdom has nothing to do with a person’s age although this wisdom poem below considers otherwise.

Wisdom
by Sara Teasdale

When I have ceased to break my wings
Against the faultiness of things,
And learned that compromises wait
Behind each hardly opened gate,
When I have looked Life in the eyes,
Grown calm and very coldly wise,
Life will have given me the Truth,
And taken in exchange my youth.

Writing Prompt:
Who do you consult for wisdom?