We’re on the threshold of a new month. A short one. What will you do with your twenty-eight days?
May I suggest a new practice? A daily haiku? A flash of fiction? A sudden-prompt? A five-minute sketch? A gathering of imagery — a collage?
When I sit to write, I have a ritual that tells my body, mind, and spirit it’s time to create. I breathe, … light a candle (a particular candle), … and ring the ting-sha. I wait for the sound to settle into silence and then begin. This ritual is the doorway to story telling time for me.
To this I am adding something new.
Tomorrow, February 1st, following the tone of the ting-sha, I’ll compose a fresh haiku. If you wish to join me in this practice, create an intention and come to the page or canvas. Though we’ll be working in our own time and space, we’ll be companions in spirit.
The haiku tradition I stick to is the Japanese form of seventeen syllables arranged in three-lines of 5, 7, & 5. It can be spoken on a breath and is of a moment.
In the introduction to her book, haiku mind, Patricia Donegan says:
“A fine haiku presents a crystalline moment of heightened awareness in simple imagery, traditionally using a kigo or season word from nature. It is this crystalline moment that is most appealing. However, this moment is more than a reflection of our day-to-day life–it is a deep reminder for us to pause and to be present to the details of the everyday. It is this way of being in the world with the awakened open-hearted awareness–of being mindful of the ordinary moments of our lives–that I’ve come to call “haiku mind.”
Step into haiku mind with me. Then let that thought go and allow whatever wants to be written to come. Don’t worry about doing it right or even well.
Perhaps yours won’t have a reference word or phrase for nature. No snow or icy pond. No woodsmoke or burning leaves. No crocuses or forsythia. No shimmering heat or thundering storm or dandelion sending off her seeds. And that’s okay.
A remembered haiku from years ago comes to me for inspiration now:
I scooped up the moon/ in my water bucket and/ spilled it on the grass (Ryuho)
Chrysanthemums bloom/ in a gap between the stones/ of a stonecutter’s yard (Matsuo Basho)
One syllable off, but it’s a translation. And even if it weren’t, it’s okay.
If, however, haiku is not your February choice, then try some flash fiction. It’s a great springboard. An excellent resource is Going Short – an invitation to flash fiction, by Nancy Stohlman. And there are many online sites that offer daily prompts to set you alight.
Perhaps you’d prefer sketching for five minutes each day. Or gathering images from calendars and magazines and greeting cards and building a layered collage or 28 minis.
Whatever you decide, meet me metaphorically and prime the pump before beginning to write, or rewrite, or artistically explore.
Will there be days when your “results” are less than stellar? When your 5-7-5 is more like a 3-9-4? Or your watercolor sketch becomes a muddy mess? … Absolutely. … It’s the practice that matters, the continuous rhythm, the daily journey into self and onto the page.
When out walking, I’m often reminded of a story I read years ago and an image returns. — A Japanese master on his death bed, all stillness but for the faint fluttering of his fingers, … five, seven, five, …
Sometimes I notice my own fingers moving as I go and I smile:
toward the chuckling brook/ I’m walking on tree shadows/ mingling with the melt
Join me, won’t you?
Share a haiku or two along the way in the comments.
You are a creative …
Be still. Breathe. Begin.