Hear “you’re nobody til someone loves you” Lament of the rejected child. “I’d rather go blind than have you walk away from me” Lament of the neglected child. “can’t live, if living is without you” Lament of the abandoned child. Love songs sung white-knuckled on our knees. Hear Coltrane’s saxophone refrain “a love supreme” “a love supreme” sung big as the sky notes round as the planet call us to the love that makes the grass grow. Love mirrored in each other’s faces to remind us, joined we can wipe our tears with flowers.
NOT JUST A WRITING WORKSHOP: COMING TO OUR SENSES
Excerpted from, a blessing “For One Who is Exhausted” by John O’Donohue
You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.
Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.
Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.
Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.
Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
During these trying times, it can help to be inspired by wisdom, humor and profound observations. If you enjoy pondering thought-provoking ideas with others, this is the workshop for you. Writing will be one of the ways we will share our thoughts.
This is not a workshop that focuses primarily on writing skills and techniques. We will rely on our innate creative thinking which results in our innate creative writing.It’s true! Once we guide the inner critic and perfectionist to their proper places, creativity has room to appear.
Our writing will be whatever we are inspired to write after considering reading quotes on the topic, this one being The Five Senses. Sharing what we write will be optional, but encouraged. I will also offer writing guidance based on Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, a proponent of “free-writing” and “writing practice.”
For those who do not know me: I am a published writer of poetry, essays, memoir and feature writing, and have been teaching various courses in writing at the college level for the past twenty years. I’ve always found inspiration for my own writing from writers and thinkers, and so am offering these workshops to inspire your own thinking and writing. Critical and Creative Thinking, which I studied at the University of Massachusetts, has always been one of my interests.
When: Sundays beginning January 9th to February 13th, 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Where: Via Zoom
Donations $20-$50 sliding scale for five sessions
Please RSVP: email@example.com
First, remember to breathe as your heart beats upon the wind mixed with your own breath, then let it slip through trees, slide over ponds, along the ridged backs of the mountain, the spine of the deer, the moose, the human being. Now exhale your breath and the earth’s circles the globe in gusts, and gales. Ask: What isn’t full of breath? Mud breathes. Rocks breathe. Science tells us that trees collect sunlight, moisture, earth and water, convert it to oxygen, exhale it from the canopies of forests. When Henry David Thoreau needed more wildness than civilized Concord and even his beloved Walden Pond could provide, he went to the deep Maine forests. He sought out the people called the Abenaki who lived in the deep green Maine woods.The Abenaki’s believed, according to Thoreau, that trees “possess a spirit as real as that of a human.” When the Abenaki needed to cut a tree for their shelter and transport, they asked forgiveness of that tree’s spirit and thanked it for providing sustenance. Now Inhale, then exhale like a mountain, like the ocean.. It was in Thoreau’s nature and his philosophy to know trees as the Abenaki knew them, as the very stuff of life. For him the indiscriminate clear-cutting of the Maine woods by the white man was a tragedy, and he mourned their death. Still, we neglect what we cannot see: Inhale. Exhale, and consider this There are two ways to notice breath: The first is when it demands your attention as you gasp for air. The second is by choice, since the mind ignores the breath. The mind is a noisy dive filled with drunks shouting trash talk over each other, the loud band that plays the same bad music in endless loops. We sit on the bar stool drunk on thoughts, barely breathing. Now inhale exhale Buddhists speak of the emptiness that is our essence. But how can something invisible be real? We ask as we take the next invisible breath. We are full of what is formless. Our hearts charged with electricity. Thoreau and the Abenaki saw the living being called “tree.” They knew its oxygenated, watery blood coursed within its rough skin. To know a tree is more than its bark, more than that it’s fallen leaves, more than its dead fuel for fire, more than our wooden ships, more than the solid floor beneath our feet. Even death breathes life into the dusty world. This mystery is no mystery to wildness, to the trees, whose bodies in death as are diffused as mulch and fungus and firewood that offer shelter and nourishment. We too, exhaling our final breath, leave our minerals for new life as wind scatters our ashes into the soil. Exhale winter, inhale spring, exhale summer inhale autumn Only with the great green lungs of forests, we breathe. http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2013/08/12/211364006/this-pulsing-earth?utm_medium=Email&utm_source=share&utm_campaign=
Death is Different on Weedon Island
Death on this city street is unnatural. Declarative as a gunshot. Fatal as poverty. Blood stains on pristine sidewalks, a nuisance. If I died on this city street I would first feel tossed like litter, like the people thrown out of homes plowed over, away, buried under heedless highways trembling high rise condos. as screaming sirens of careening police cars, and ambulances, played the urban dirge. If I died on Weedon Island, I would be like a tree, my body felled onto the forgiving sand, reclaimed by the endless transformation as green leaves are yellowed, wasp wings dried to powder, my bones brittled into soil for Spring blooming magnolia trees, underfoot of cautious raccoons, busy sparrows, quiet turtles, sleepy snakes, hurried bugs. On Weedon Island life and death move with the rhythm of bird calls woot woot, pause, woot woot, pause. Rest and rise. Rise and rest. So the song, and the daylight comes and goes comes and goes like the final heartbeat, before the first breath.
must first run fast like you it rushes, stumbles over boulders tin cans rusted detritus floats under broken bridges failed dams flood your road muddied darkened, thick stagnant, yet fertile surprised by the lotus then the flows downstream swept clean cleared, until all things once hidden by dark, churning waters are visible in stillness.
Why We Long for a Room with a View
At 6:30 AM from my balcony, behind the palms and under the oaks, the sky is deep orange and pink. The trees look black in this still-soft rising light. Out here there are no problems only trees, birds, breezes and flowers. This is true no matter what problem I was keeping alive indoors. Once I step out into the world, letting go simply happens with no effort on my part. The air, the rising sun, the plants, and trees absorb my anxiety, coax me to breathe again, to open my heart and drop my mask. The energy coursing in everything, including me, is silent. The only sounds that come and go at this hour are mockingbird songs, doves cooing, parrots and crows squawking, an occasional car growling down the street.
The air is exceptionally cool for this time of year in Florida and this would be an ideal time and place for meditation. But I have my coffee cup in my hand and still feel groggy. It occurs to me that I could keep my eyes open for this mediation and use the sky as my meditation focal point.
It’s a clumsy meditation; I am primarily caught by my chaotic thoughts. Eyes open I know the answer is to look up and remember the sky—just the sky. Wide open and empty—such relief. I watch my mind: thinking, thinking, sky, thinking, thinking, sky…: cluttered mind, open sky. Well, what do you know… That spaciousness that the Buddha talks about is just outside my door.
Everything humans needed was once just outside their shelter.
Even now after white people, like myself, have stolen the land from the Native Americans, carved it up, depleted its soil, paved it over, built buildings that dwarf the remaining trees, and still “dream” of owning what land that remains and still build yet more structures to “protect themselves from the “wilderness” from “the elements—even now we need windows, French doors, open floor plans, space, lots of space.
Why do we so long for more room, a vista, a view? Maybe we long for home: the space in which life flows, effortless. We are homesick. We miss the sky, the birds, and the open plains of grasses. The Native Americans and the white settlers were never simply different colored skins in bodies. We shared a true home as the Native Americans tried to tell us: the space that is complete and filled with only what is real and needed. The place that is everywhere, filled with the knowledge of water and fire, of animals and insects. We think we covet any place with a view. We pay top dollar to see mountains or ocean as if they were pictures in a museum—not live, not real. We “enjoy the view” before we return to a reality that is covered in concrete.
We sit in our offices or our living rooms and long for what we call “vacation.” W call it “recharging our batteries” —not such an exaggeration since we have forgotten the source of our energy. Where do we go to “recharge”? Outside. Out to breathe again. Out to be quieted by mountains and lakes.
We return to what is “full” of life: commerce, chatter, control, capital and terror. We fear what is empty because even as we yearn for it, we have forgotten what spaciousness really is.
There are no such things as emptiness in the world. Even in the sky there were no vacant places. Everywhere there was life, visible and invisible, and every object possessed something good for us to have also—even the stones…The world teemed with life and wisdom; there was no complete solitude for the Lakota. —Luther Standing Bear
We yearn for what we destroyed—our true selves, our true home. We did not know we were destroying a part of ourselves that shares our atoms with every other living thing. We scramble to the beaches to bask in simplicity and non-doing. We rush to what is left of the wilderness to “get away from it all,” but not for long. We set aside so little time for our return home; we give it so little meaning. The Native American knew her/his body was of the soil, the water, the fire, the air. Buddhists know the same and meditate on the elements that pulse and move in the aggregate body we think is so solid. The Buddhist Forest Monks in Thailand sit in the charnel grounds watching the body’s elements fly into the air, flow to the ground, settle back into the soil. They sit on the ground meditating.
The man who sat on the ground in his tipi meditating on life and its meaning, accepting the kinship of all creatures and acknowledging unity with the universe of things, was infusing into his being the true essence of civilization. —Luther Standing Bear
When I was in college in the 70’s, we learned of various Native American elders and shamans who had called for people to forgo their walled compounds and recognize the physical and spiritual bounty of earth. Some of us went to live from the land and leave the cities behind. But we were no match for the minds warped by the power and wealth the European ancestors passed down as a soul sickness to their 20th century relatives.
“When the Earth is sick, the animals will begin to disappear, when that happens, The Warriors of the Rainbow will come to save them.”—Chief Seattle, Dwamish
Perhaps the “rainbow warriors” who were prophesied to save Mother Earth and its creatures are among us. Their numbers are growing: patient and persistent environmental activists and “warrior bodhisattvas” who promise to remain with us, and guide us until we are awake again.
But why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation, like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature, and regret is useless. Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We will see. —Chief Seattle, Dwamish
What passes? Dreams on night air and nightmares words spoken notes played the flight of birds laughing through the sky an embrace a kiss. our bodies. What is completed? A teacup, Its purpose served, the crack appears, a memory sealed with one gold thread. What remains? Wide blue sky silence that fills a canyon.
Death is Different on Weedon Island
Death on this city street
as a gunshot.
Fatal as poverty.
Blood stains on pristine sidewalks,
If I died on this city street
I would first feel tossed like litter,
like the people thrown
out of homes
plowed over, away,
trembling high rise condos.
as screaming sirens
of careening police cars,
played the urban dirge.
If I died on Weedon Island,
I would be like a tree,
my body felled
onto the forgiving sand,
by the endless
as green leaves are yellowed,
wasp wings dried to powder,
my bones brittled into soil
for Spring blooming magnolia trees,
underfoot of cautious raccoons, busy sparrows,
quiet turtles, sleepy snakes, hurried bugs.
On Weedon Island
life and death move with the rhythm of bird calls
Rest and rise.
Rise and rest.
So the song,
and the daylight
comes and goes
comes and goes
like the final heartbeat,
before the first breath.
Inspired Writing Workshop: The Wisdom of Transformative Stillness, Leonard Cohen, Pico Iyer, Pablo Neruda
*Not only for experienced writers. Join in even if you don’t think you can write!. You will surprise yourself!
During these trying times, it can help to be inspired by wisdom, humor and profound observations. For those who do not know me: I am a published writer, and have been teaching writing at the college level for the past twenty years. I’ve always found inspiration for my own writing from writers and thinkers, and so am offering these workshops to inspire your own thinking and writing.
In this workshop, we will read short inspiring selections from many wisdom traditions then discuss one of these before we write. Some of the excerpts will be philosophical, some disturbing, some comforting, others just playful or funny.
Our writing will be whatever we are inspired to write after our discussions. Sharing what we write will be optional, but encouraged. I will also offer writing guidance based on Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, and others.
Here is an example of a quote we might discuss and write about: If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees. (Rainer Maria Rilke)
When: Each Sunday September 5-26, 3:00 PM – 4:15 PM
Cost: Sliding scale according to need, from $20-$50.
If interested, please reply to this blog or to firstname.lastname@example.org
Weedon Island Morning
Life On Weedon Island is different from man—made places. In the shade, beneath a tin roof at a green wood picnic table we sit and write among the living world: live oaks, saw palms, cautious raccoons, tall, naked pines festooned with hats of pine needles flitting sparrows, quiet turtles, hurried bugs soft feathers of a breeze stroke our shoulders. above, the blue sky is cloudless this morning. Death on Weedon Island is different living and dying linked as dry yellowed leaves and grasses turn to fertile mulch for Spring blooming magnolia trees. On Weedon Island are no losses like the finality of gunshots people lost and tossed from neighborhoods plowed away soil and sand pushed under shaking condos. Here we are held as if in a hammock rocked gently by rhythms of bird call woot woot, pause, woot woot, pause. The song, the bird, the daylight beginnings and endings come and go come and go like the first and the last breath.
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