Spiral: words in brief

I look down at the ground as I stand in the circle. A small girl has drawn a spiral in the snow beside me. A few moments later, I overhear beside the fire: “Sometimes she starts to spiral out of control.” I danced a spiral dance here a few years ago in the darkness of the winter solstice, six months later for the summer solstice in the lush green of June. That feels like some other person in some other lifetime. I am still surrounded by friends here; I know I am at home. But the wild energy of that previous time, the collaboration and momentum, all of that is gone. I am stripped bare, focused inward, disciplined, cautious. It is a choice, but also a reaction, a swing of the pendulum, a spiral. It’s hard to see the other side when I am here in this tight curl of myself, hard to see the arc widening, hard to imagine that I might again expand.

From my current daily writing practice by email with three women across the continent. Word prompt: spiral.

Hurry: words in brief

This afternoon I sit by a fire in a Toronto ravine, drinking hot apple cider and watching red-tailed hawks soar overhead, talking with two dear friends. Our children roam the valley with the outdoor program that has been part of each of our lives since our kids were tiny. The trees around us are bare now, the creek low, November’s bold deer once again slipped under cover. The last few weeks we’ve circled up to sing at day’s end under the fiery pinks and oranges of the setting sun, last week with a nearly-full moon rising opposite. The kids return laughing, muddy, with stories of animal sightings, games, adventures, gratitude. I treasure these unhurried afternoons, these slow friendships. Each year there are changes in our lives, departures, losses of one kind or another. Community is a more porous, more fluid organism than I could have known. But it is a resilient one too, I am slowly and most gratefully learning, once I open the doors wide and let it breathe.

From 100 Words: The Beauty of Brevity. Word prompt: hurry.

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Interview: words in brief

I interview my parts:
my limbs today are strong and stretched,
yoga widening space in my lungs and heart.
Each day my body’s new-found sweetness
shifts away lifetimes of clutter,
clears space for joy.

My heart is softer now,
appreciative of ordinary kindness,
awake to simple possibilities.

Sometimes I fear the future; or mourn
the enthusiasms of earlier decades, or grieve
my heart’s attachment to a village
that was always more a dream than a plan.

I keep vigil with the fears, let them
travel through,
remember that this world is provisional,
my place here is temporary,
and has always been.
But I am still here, finding delight,
finding peace.

My feet are connected to the earth;
I am at home within myself.
My mind is open to the trees and sky,
engaged with poetry and wisdom,
and with my own gleaning of words to fill my hunger;
My hands find ways to make small things beautiful.
My soul can handle truth.

Moods drift past like clouds;
I watch, let them drift where the wind blows,
try not to hold on to anything,
except presence,
except love.

From 100 Words: The Beauty of Brevity. Word prompt: interview. Closer to 200 words, I believe, but this wanted to be said today.

Reunion: words in brief

I’ve always avoided reunions, the official kind, where I imagine people standing around awkwardly sipping drinks and listing accomplishments. I find my life hard to sum up in a line or two. I only want to talk to people who are truly listening, and who will tell me the truth about themselves in return. But I’ve been heartened lately to realize that most of my peers have passed the age of competition. This is the gift of middle age. None of us has quite the life we expected. We’ve lined up our mistakes and disappointments, grieved our losses, stripped away the superfluities, felt doors closing behind us. It grants us a certain clarity, a certain generousity, and curiousity in abundance.“What is your story?” we ask each other now. “I really want to know.”

From 100 Words: The Beauty of Brevity. Word prompt: reunion.

Fencing: words in brief

I argue with the fencing every year, and every year it wins. Low wire-mesh edges our narrow backyard, the house facing off against the sturdy cement shed at the rear. In the summer, we eat dinners on the roughed-in patio, chatting with our neighbour to the north as he stands over his barbeque, steps away. Two doors north a small table is arrayed with bright cloth and long-stemmed glasses; from our back steps we compare rat-trapping tips. South, we are gifted pears and grapes and marvel at the roses. Further south, a surly watcher sits, appraising us, smoke drifting. I long for privacy, a shady outdoor room with tall cedar fences, instead of these crowded cubicles. But each spring the flowers bloom, and I sit back and leave it be.

From 100 Words: The Beauty of Brevity. Word prompt: fencing.

Resistance: words in brief

Pushing back against dissatisfaction is a form of resistance. It’s a fine note to hit at times, gratitude that is clear and simple and recognizes everything that sustains us, from the primal four elements to the most complex modern systems. I don’t want your bucket lists, your weekly goals, your pushing of edges. I want to live my life as it is, day-by-day, in unhurried relationship, in deliberate practice, in defiant presence. I want my influence to ripple in the slowest way possible, fighting back in the ways that matter to me most.

From 100 Words: The Beauty of Brevity. Word prompt: resistance.

Spider: words in brief

For a while I believed that community was a container, a basket dexterously woven with tools of connection, and that once inside, I would be held in the comfort and safety of belonging, ideally forever. Now I think of community as a web. Each of us stands at a spoke, a meeting point, holding onto the threads radiating outward from our particular position. We can maintain our threads or let them fray. A few tattered threads won’t break the web, but too many will tear apart our section of it, and the damage will perhaps cast us loose, by accident or by choice. It’s not a perfect metaphor, but it has been a useful one when I find myself bitter that no-one is holding the basket I had imagined myself in. If there is a spider, an ultimate weaver, she stands at a distance, shaped out of different matter, on a wholly different plane, making repairs only when it suits her.

Or perhaps I need to learn to trust the spider… I can hold my own threads – usually – but the pattern is well beyond me. 

From 100 Words: The Beauty of Brevity. Word prompt: spider.