During sabbatical, I’ve been focusing on writing as a practice. In other words, I’ve been focusing on writing as process and not product. Yes, I’ve created this blog and I’ve been posting here and people have been reading my words and sometimes clicking “like” and sometimes commenting so I suppose these posts are a “product,” but I’m not making any money on it and I’m not really replying to posts and I’m not seeking to do anything with them other than just put them out into the world. Also, most of my writing is not posted here. Most of my writing is in one of two journals, one for my “morning pages,” stream-of-thought writing that I do first thing after waking up, and the other for poems and thoughts and others’ quotes that come to me throughout the day.
A helpful guide to me so far has been Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within.” She wrote the book after having published many things, but “Writing Down the Bones” is about writing for the sake of writing or, rather, writing as a practice. Right down my alley. Here’s a quote by Goldberg that made my heart sing: “Writing is everything, unconditional. There is no separation between writing, life, and the mind.”
Three weeks into sabbatical, having written every day, I think I’m starting to understand what she means. When you write as a regular practice, you start connecting your life to your thoughts, to your desire, to your body, to your arm, to the pen or keyboard, to the page or screen, to some words, to the realities toward which the words might be pointing. And those possible realities to which the words point flow back through the words, through the screen/page, through the keyboard/pen, through the hands and arms, through the body, through the aching desire that began the whole process right in the middle of the only life you’ve ever known.
So I share the following and want to insist that it is not a poem, not a product, not something commodifiable, not important, not something conditioned by any expectation, just some words that happened to flow out of my practice. No need to comment or “like.”
This Is Not a Poem
Never was, never will be
Not in the way the circular stain on my desk speaks of a hot cup of tea long gone
Not in the way my breath spells food for the tree which gives me back my breath again
Not a poem that claims for itself rhyme or some glorious image that makes me cry
Just some words scribbled for a moment in my life
Is my life a poem? Is there rhyme here? Form? Any image?
I have lived days that make the whole universe justifiable
And yet, had I never been born, I have a hunch the world would look exactly the same way it does right now
Is this not a poem?