Haiku Haven

A friend recently said that he liked haiku because they were short enough for him to memorize.  He delighted in writing haiku that did not make sense.  He then recited them to acquaintances who were left perplexed by his Haiku Koans.

Another friend, upon waking, writes haiku as she greets the new day…it has become her morning ritual.  This was also my routine for awhile.  When writing haiku, I enjoyed the feeling of presence. The early morning was a good time to write as I left the dreamworld and entered the waking world.  I could invoke both states, it seemed.

∗∗∗∗

A brief introduction to haiku.  So far as we know, haiku originated in Japan.  Short poems, usually three lines long, haiku have a total of 17 syllables…5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the second line and 5 syllables in the third line.  Traditional haiku usually contained a season word that indicated in which season the haiku was set.  The season word isn’t always obvious.  Haiku are little philosophical gems, sometimes with humor.  They can describe almost anything.  Often, they describe daily situations in a refreshing way–creating a new experience of something familiar.  It is always amazing to me that some poetic forms, such as haiku, endure.

Following are a few of my haiku–I allowed myself to veer slightly off 5-7-5 for the sake of meaning:

Springs animation
Mocks her skeletal cage
Risk taken, spirit leaps.

I’ve a perfect view
Of life through eyes that see
The world as it could be.

When summer fades to fall
As love fades into friendship
where does the heart call home?

Tea in the morning
Leaves, twigs, roots, flowers
Connect one to origins.

∗∗∗∗

Here are a few haiku from the masters:

Spring Cobalt Ocean…
Across snow-white mountains fly
black returning birds         (Shiki)

Daffodils
and a white paper screen
reflect each other’s color     (Basho)

I envy the tom cat
how easily he let’s go of
love’s pain and longing!     (Etsujin)

Divorced and lonely,
she walks to the field
to help plant seedlings     (Buson)

I climb into bed
and then take my socks off.
How lazy I’m getting !     (Shiki)

Note:  In translating haiku from Japanese to English, it is challenging to get both the meaning and the syllable count.  

The simplicity of haiku, with its ability to evoke images (and possibly a culture) in a few short lines, is appealing.

WRITING PROMPT:
In writing your own haiku, strive to “give a newcrow
experience of something familiar”.  Try to adhere
to the 5-7-5 syllables (or as close as you can get to
it).  Take a few deep breaths, get present with
your surroundings and drop into this now moment.
Write from this place.  Stand up, look out a window.
Where do your eyes land…write a few more haiku.

 

Making Waffles

web22I light a candle and play soft mood music as I prepare cornmeal waffles from scratch.  With a wire whisk, I  blend the eggs and buttermilk in my favorite bowl.   I add the dry ingredients–cornmeal, flour and baking powder–to this mixture.  I stir in melted butter.  I’ve done this for countless years.  When I am present with this alchemical process, I am truly in my life.  My presence is one of the ingredients.  It is a ceremony.

Preparing an occasional gourmet meal, making a fancy dessert or mixing up a batch of waffles are some of the ways that I stay grounded.  As a writer, it is easy to float away into a world of the mind, ethereal imagination and fluid wordy inspiration.  However, hands-on, food preparation is of proportionate value to me. Isn’t it a balancing act at times?

****

I love good films about humans and food.  Babette’s Feast, Chocolat, Mostly Martha, The Big Night, Julie and Julia, Eat Drink Man Woman, Chef, even Ratatouille!  Only a few of  the many wonderful films with this theme.

I am curious as to why I find these films so uplifting, satisfying and inspiring.  Possibly because they elevate something that I have valued throughout my life.  They take food preparation to a sensual and even “glamourous” height.  Food that is so basic to our survival also provides endless enjoyment.  To participate in the alchemical process of the creation of a meal and then to share the outcome with others is sublime.

Writing Prompt:
For your journal, what is something (other than writing) which you enjoy that takes you out of your head and into the moment and/or process? Do you tend to this daily?

 

 

 

Writing from the Daily Mundane (part two)

floral1

Perhaps you’ve read or studied the teachings of The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.  He addresses how to be present in each and every moment–a path towards spiritual enlightenment.  I, for one, have noticed how difficult it is to be fully present.  And, I have also found that when I’m in a creative space, whether it’s cooking, writing, poetry (reading or writing it) and painting, I am immersed and therefore fully present. When I’m fully present, there is no sense of time.

WRITING PROMPT:

I offer an awareness practice to you.  I call this one PRESENCE OR DIVISION.

Think about one repetitive task that you did this week.  Write it down.  Describe the task in detail.  (Was it doing the laundry?)  Were you able to be present with it?  Were there the distractions of a busy family as you performed the task?  Were you able to have a meditative moment?  Was there a quieting within as you performed this task or was there a feeling of fragmentation?  No judgment, only noticing and writing about what you noticed.  Take whatever amount of time you need to write about this.   Ask yourself, “Did I feel presence or division of attention while doing this task?”  Notice and write about the task and how present or distracted that you were.

WRITING TIP:
Five minutes of presence with a task goes a long way towards calming the mind, focusing one’s attention, refreshing the spirit so that inspiration can enter.

****

For me, the repetitive task was skimming the thyme leaves off the stems to dry them for later use in winter soups and stews…there was no one else here.  There was neither television nor other background noise.  The house was completely quiet.  I scraped the leaves off the stem between my thumb and forefinger, repetitively for over half an hour.  I appreciated the fragrance of thyme.  I contemplated the flavor that this spice lends to food. I loved the idea that I had harvested this herb from my own garden plot (and that I had beat the predicted frost).  And then, I was just quiet and present with this pleasant and calming task.  It is my experience that sometimes, in moments like this, I am recharging, integrating and tapping into wisdom.