Have you heard of the Mindful Writing Challenge for January 2013? I read about it on Writing into Radiance and loved the concept. It’s about being mindful of the physical world. To foster that appreciation, write one “small stone”–a very short prose or poetry piece–which responds to beauty one encounters that day. Actually, it’s not just beauty–that’s my leap. And my mistake. Don’t look only for beauty.
Their short version is very simple:
1. Notice something properly every day during January.
2. Write it down.
The idea is to write one a day for the month of January. It’s your choice how to share or collect your pieces–singly or in a group.
OK, I admit it: I was still confused after I digested this idea. What did small stones look like? Loose pebbles? A gravel pit?
From reading up on the notion still more, it seems that Haiku is fine, but so are a couple of descriptive lines which evoke the experience for readers.
I tried one on January 1:
Against the sky’s palm,
black sprigged ropes crisscrossed
until a boom ignited a thousand birds
scattering abroad, alone
OK, so it’s not a poem. It’s not very good. But it begins to capture the experience for me. By focusing I can be “in the moment” with the birds. If I wanted to begin a poem from this image, I’d have to figure out how to convey that empty-handed feeling after the birds are gone. Then I risk going into the “one in the hand” cliché and that’s the end of the poem.
On January 2, I tried another:
The mountain splits the sunlight in half, and the oleander tree, its leaves glittering as though wet under bright rays, sidles up to the bare January tree which waits in shadow, dry and brittle. The sun slips a degree, illuminating the green leaves which reflect onto the bare trunk of the tree next to it. Now both trees shine.
I wasn’t sure what kind of tree that was, winter-naked as if it were Michigan here in Arizona. It just looked like January. I guess I can omit the word January.
The next day I felt frustrated and wanted to spend more time on my moment and less on figuring out what a small stone looks like.
Light tricks skewer the ground. I’m not sure where to step along the wash, barricaded by shadow and scrub. Stumbling on a half-buried boulder, I try to right myself, but there’s nothing to clutch and I fall. As I haul myself up, I’m haunted by the weight of what isn’t there.
Lots of shadows and light and black in my early January stones. I haven’t quite got the hang of it yet, but I started having fun walking the wash for this last one, so I will keep trying until I get my gravel pit.