Sunday, May 27, 2007

Witness to the Ordinary

I've set myself the challenge of writing a few byte-sized prose poems each day as part of my new poetry project, Aortography, on Twitter. It's amazing just how difficult this has become after only a few days. The 140-character limit for each post seemed, at first, to be a restriction; now I find it hard to pull together even 100 characters worth of purposeful, thoughtful or evocative words. Can it be that so much in our lives is needless chatter? Do we say so little that has real meaning? What is everyone so busy saying?

As a writer firstly, and furthermore as a Druid, I like to think I make an effort to be aware of the many minute details of life (as 'they' say, "God is in the details," or perhaps more precisely, the Divine manifests itself through the wonders of the unique and multifaceted microcosm)(what a mouthful!). Still, so much that occurs throughout the day I must take in and let go again as a matter of necessity, my mind busy with other things. The ebb and flow of experience itself becomes a kind of current that I ride, peak and trough, and it is easy to equate "life" with the ride, rather than the graceful and sustaining fluidity of interaction that carries me along.

But when I sit still for a moment, it comes rushing in and pools in my immediate memory, in my mind's third eye. I can recall the faces of the two older women as they listened to a coworker tell me about the most recent gang-related violence in our city. I can hear the voice of the man who answered my "How are you doing--do you need any refills?" with an honest and sincere inquiry into how I was holding up over the busy holiday weekend (he left me eight dollars and change as tip). I can remember the sticky-sweet juice of the cantaloupe and honeydew melon as I cut them for a fruit cup for three young girls to share. I can smell that peculiar baby smell wafting from the infant in pink kicking her legs in her highchair, and wince at the pair of lungs on her that she worked up into a scream louder than any my adult lungs could manage these days (how could such a tiny thing be so loud--did she have a lot of practice in the womb, as if it were a dark little sound-proof music room in the basement with the dusty piano-forte that no one ever plays?)...

So, there it is. When I sit still, there are so many memories of moments that seemed important over the course of the day, windows into utterly ordinary revelation. If I do not make the effort to recall them, if I do not somehow record them somewhere, do they still have meaning? Or do they become just the background static of my "real" life, while that life suffers a myopic crunch in perspective? Do these memories go somewhere as I forget them? Do they accumulate on my aura or in my karma, layer upon layer that I will have to reconcile some day? Or, if I acknowledge them now, as they occur, and learn to let them pass away again, does my awareness of them--even only a passing awareness--change me, or transform the moments themselves into a kind of blessing or movement in the soul of the world?

Things to think about. For now, at least, I see again just how much I have to say, and how I've underestimated the daily minutiae of simply living life.


  1. Happy Memorial Day! Hopefully you do not have to work today. It has become such a big celebration of national pride, but Memorial Day was always about family and getting a break from the daily grind to experience more of what makes our country so great.

  2. Hi Ali,
    Sorry for the off-topic post, but I wanted to let you know that I’ve tagged you as a Thinking Blogger. You can follow this link to see your nomination and what to do now...

    Please take this opportunity to nominate five other bloggers who make you think!

  3. Don, Sadly, I did work today (I never understand how people in restaurants can be rude to their waitresses on holidays--I always feel like saying, "O, okay, well if you can do better, maybe next time you can work on a holiday and serve me food while I kick back and relax. Sound good?" Plus, since servers are exempt from minimum wage here, time-and-a-half for me comes to about $4 :-p). O well. Still, I called my folks tonight, and I got to read your nice little message, which made me smile. :) All in all, a good day.

  4. Erik, Wow! Thanks. :) I'm really flattered. I feel like I have no idea who to nominate, now (I don't follow many blogs, and the few that I do follow seem to have won this award already, sometimes even a few of them!). I'll definitely have to take some time to ponder this... :)

  5. I am glad that I could cheer you up, and you are right that people are never very understanding of service people. I did just enough of it to appreciate when I get good service.

    Actually, I can say the same about military service. I did my brief stint at it. I appreciate and honor those still serving, but I do not think that we should let war be our excusive focus as a country.