Wednesday 31 October 2012

1 November is Mindful Writing Day

Samhain: different dimensions touch in passing. I wish I knew more about this and other ancient festivals. Perhaps if I stop and pay attention I'll find I know more than I think - that happens.

Tomorrow, 1 November, is the first Mindful Writing Day, organised by Fiona Robyn and Kaspalita Thompson of Writing our Way Home. They're inviting participants to pay attention for a few moments during the day and write down something of what we experience: a 'small stone'. It's lovely to see that more than one thousand people have signed up. You might think, if you don't write much, that this is not for you, but you might be surprised, because when you stop and pay attention you find things you didn't know were there. Or you might think, if you a prolific writer, that this is small stuff and not for you, and you might be surprised too.

Mindful Writing Day celebrates the publication of A Blackbird Sings, the second anthology of 'small stones'. I'm so glad to be part of this movement and to have contributed to both this new book and the first anthology, pay attention: a river of stones.

There's much light and lightness in this new, small book and the project behind it. Like the title, it sings out - a long peel of 'small stones', each a brief meeting with a different voice and perception. Much lightness, but I also want to try and say something 'heavier'.

I think 'small stones' are big stuff because they are a form of mindfulness practice. As health service professionals are increasingly starting to admit (amazingly, really amazingly!), to cultivate a practice of being present, being mindful, paying attention, is a big, big deal in our societies of screaming distraction and endlessly fragmented attention. Here's a moving article that bears vivid testament to this (via online friend and fellow mindfulness practitioner Jackie Bradley). Writing 'small stones' is a mindfulness practice that works well for me - and for very many others, to judge from the numbers signing up for Mindful Writing Day. These are the things that keep me somewhat sane and hopeful. They cut through less helpful habits and propagate a kinder and more lively relationship both with the world out there and with my own consciousness.

The first anthology included prose reflections on the process from the editors and from a few contributors, and a guide to writing your own 'small stones'. A Blackbird Sings also tops and tails the rich selection of 'stones' with personal notes from the editors and this time takes the process and the movement further, with Kaspa's inspirational and structured short programme for writing 'small stones' over seven days. 

It's a lovely book. You can download the Kindle version FREE until tomorrow here (UK) or here (US). And buy the paperback, a beautiful small object, here (UK) or here (US). and please join us tomorrow for Mindful Writing Day.

Sunday 28 October 2012

Drawing on light

Earlier this year, Lucy's posts and many lovely photographs of her visit to Kettle's Yard in Cambridge reminded me that I hadn't been there for many years - not since I've had enough aesthetic taste or mindful attention to appreciate it, really. Yesterday was softly lit, dipping to lowering skies and heavy rain, then bursting into shafts of brilliant sunshine. It was a good day for lingering in this space designed to draw so much on the changing quality of natural light.

Saturday 27 October 2012

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Lost treasure

I find myself telling her about the sense of loss, the divorce from fiction, imagination, desires and dreams. These were the things, the life, I couldn't have, but I kept the precious notions of them in a treasure box that I could open and look into whenever I wanted. Lately, the box is empty, and I don't know if these shadowy, imaginary things have faded away or if they're all floating out here now, mixed up with reality, trying to coalesce into something new.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

The smell of each day

The muted light of damp October days, the pulpy swirl of leaves underfoot, and the bitter-sweet smell of it all. The smell. I used to briefly smell the weather, the day's mood, on the way to the bus-stop each morning. This is the smell of life, I used to think, and these few rushed minutes every day are not enough of it. So, every time things feel hard, I go outside and fill my lungs with this, remind myself that, however many demons have followed me here from the former life: yes - I can now do this.

Monday 22 October 2012

Friday 19 October 2012

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Window dressing

Sometimes artifice, too, is a lovely thing.

Friday 12 October 2012

Wednesday 10 October 2012

So little notion

I thought I wanted to be free - well, freer anyway. I had so little notion. I used to think, for all those years, that it was all such a struggle because the inimical structures and impositions of others made everything difficult. Now I know better. Belated discovery of past six months: life just is that difficult.

Some days start, continue and end in a climate of weakness and confusion and everything feels too much. And this is an internal climate - mine!

So now I know it’s not really going to get easier. But perhaps it can keep becoming more fluid. Perhaps I can feel my way into the ephemerality of every hard moment.

Somehow the ephemerality of the happy moments, the strong ones, the softly joyful ones, is always to the fore. But it's not just the good bits, it's all of it: here, blink, gone. Hard, but not fixed; never lengthy; a flickering, ever-changing string of moments.

I increasingly wonder if the enormity of confronting this is what lies behind so much of human madness, cruelty, masochism; behind our obsessive need to build boxes, lock our own cell doors as well as other people's.

Out here, outside the boxes, there's no comfort. But just perhaps, also, since nothing is fixed, there's nothing to be so afraid of either.

Is it possible to pursue goals, to assert some productive organisation and structure without building myself a new box?

Weak, unexpected sunshine slants across the screen of demanding words and work. So, when a particular task is done and despatched, I go outside and touch the sunshine, kick my way through the fallen leaves.

season of mists

Saturday 6 October 2012

Small pond

Experimenting with a  different shape at TRAIL MIX.