It’s that most slippery time of the year. Really, my driveway has been transformed from a snowy wonderland into a shining luge run of ice by the recent rain and above-freezing temperatures. But this time of year is also slippery time-wise. Even those of us who try to have iron-clad routines (I meekly raise my hand here) are knocked off-course by the vagaries of holiday parties, snowstorms, family obligations, and, sometimes, the December blues.
Because I live so far from my family, I don’t have many holiday obligations, but I sure am nudged away from writing and other tasks I usually enjoy by what I consider a mild case of Seasonal Affective Disorder. This year it’s exacerbated by my easy-as-she-goes recuperation from my medical issues and by our elected officials’ wanton disregard for the vulnerable. So, I’m casting about for ways to buckle in.
Here I am, 7:30am at my desk facing the dark window, SAD-light blaring. This one practice, writing each morning come hell or high water, keeps me from slipping off the calendar and then washing up on the shores of March blinking and groggy. But I have a sense that I’m going to have to come up with some other ways to wake myself up. WAKE UP, I want to scream as I scroll through Facebook, as I stare into my suddenly cold cup of morning coffee.
Entering 2015, I felt the same way. I had lost both of my parents in 2014, and I was sleep-walking through life. Grief, like a big grey blanket, covered everything. So I set myself a challenge, one haiku every day. I posted them each night on Facebook to keep myself on track, but also because posting them on social media made them disposable. In other words, I wasn’t going to send them out for publication. Off they went each night on the 1s and 0s. It started out as just a way to push myself to create, but it became a way to push myself back into the world. Suddenly I found myself paying closer attention – what image, what moment, what sound, would find its way into that evening’s haiku?
In 2016, I switched to American Sentences. Still seventeen syllables, but not arranged into lines. They kept me on my toes, paying attention, and felt more conversational (though I suspect my friends didn’t enjoy them as much as the haiku for some reason). 365 tiny poems each year flexed my metaphor muscles, my attic of images, my poetic imagination.
In 2017, I took a break. I still found myself occasionally thinking hey that would be a good haiku, but instead I would squirrel it away in my notebook or incorporate the image into something longer. Lately though, I feel like a turtle pulled all the way into my shell. What practice would pull me out into the world again? Photos? Haiku? Erasure poetry? Not sure yet. But I’ll let you know. I have great faith in practice, in ritual, in creating those habits that will support you in a life fully-lived.
ps. I am offering the Haiku Path again for this January, if you are thinking that you’d like to write haiku and develop a new practice yourself.