Haiku in Turbulent Times

What I’ve appreciated about Haiku is the command to be present.  It is in the observation of the present moment that makes Haiku timely now.

Four years ago,I wanted to paint a piece that integrated Haiku.  I found this Haiku from Gyodai, an early Japanese poet…I couldn’t find his time period.  I let the Haiku inspire the painting.  It’s a busy painting, but in the moment, it felt right.

“Snow is melting
Far in the Misted Mountain
A Cawing Crow”

Gyodai

 

crow

Here’s the thing about Haiku…it’s accessible to everyone.  You could be anywhere, for instance sheltering at home.  Grab a pen, pencil, piece of charcoal, crayon, whatever…and follow the formula.  Here it is:

A brief introduction to haiku.  So far as we know, haiku originated in Japan.  Short poems, usually three lines long, haiku has 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.

I invite you to write haiku.  You choose the time of day.  Sit in your most comfortable chair or go out into the forest, up a mountain or by an ocean or lake.  Whatever is permissible where you live.  Take a few deep breaths and settle in.  Deeply notice something in your surroundings.  Honor it by writing a haiku.  Truly–nature, the things we use and take for granted, animals, other people, everything, everyone likes to be noticed and honored.

In writing your own haiku, strive to “give a new
experience of something familiar”.  Try to adhere
to the 5-7-5 syllables (or as close as you can get to
it).

Blessed day to you.

Walking Home

bird1I dropped my car off at the shop at 8:30 this morning.  I live within a walking distance of the auto shop, about 25 minutes.  Today is one of those pre-vernal-equinox days.  It tempts the mind to believing that it is spring.  The awakening inside is piqued and we lean towards longer, warmer days.  Those days when the bulbs burst into their flowers and we rise feeling renewed.

It’s so easy to hop into the car first thing to run errands.  Get where I want to go quickly, accomplish more things on that never-ending list.  Such a convenience.  Such an expediter.

It’s when I don’t have access to the car that I begin to really see what surrounds me.  And to discover that there are surprises in every front yard.  The wood-crafted alligator that guards the front patio.  The ornamental kale in barrels in front of the fusion food truck on the little boulevard.  The so soon crocuses, purple, yellow and white.  The Downy Woodpecker beats out his rhythm in the ancient cherry tree.  Then there’s the way the sun feels at this time of the day.  And the way the soft sunlight touches what I see.  Past the auto dealership…I’d like to be in the market for one of those jeeps…but not yet.  The spectacular vista of the mountain peeking through the low houses and buildings.

I pass a rare few people on foot and the greeting is always to “Have a nice day.”
What is it about this time of day that enlivens the sleepy soul?  What is it that makes you glad to be alive and renews optimism?  I don’t know, but I wouldn’t have experienced it if I’d been in the car, in a rush, not in the present moment.

Not to make it all glamorous.  Walking home from the mechanics on a winter’s day with snow and ice on the ground is not a picnic.  At each street corner, there is an indefinable slush puddle.  It could be deep enough to seep over your boottops.  Then the walking home is more of a survival exploit.  I find myself looking down and then out, down and then out.  I don’t see much of the scenery as the focus is not to slip and fall.  Regardless, I allow this adventure on occasion too…a test of my mettle?

All of this to say, take a walk in the morning when you have an opportunity, or make one.  See what you notice that you might have missed had you not been on foot.

And, “Have a nice day.”