On writing, and reading

When you read the words of great writers, you realize that what you offer when you sit down at a keyboard is paltry; perhaps not even worth typing. After spending the morning with the words of Rachel Carson, Emily Dickinson, M.C. Escher, Thoreau, Oliver Sacks and the like, you wonder what in the world makes you sit down and try to capture the burbling thoughts and emotions that tumble around and in you. Is it vanity? Ego? Those would not be good impetus for writing. What ARE we trying to do?

Soothing waters

Lately I have spent a lot of time just being in nature, when not working at the J.O.B. Feeling a lot of joy, awe and wonder. Puttering. Trying to support friends in need. Forgetting a grandson’s birthday because I was off of work and my calendar reminder did not pop. Reading. Walking. Watching water flow over rocks. Examining piles of pebbles and how their colors come alive when in contact with water. I did not satisfy my writing commitment set for myself and I am okay with that – a huge change from over the years. I am learning that sometimes you just have to live, not write about living. It did pop up in my mind from time to time, but I chose to ignore it and do whatever I was doing at the time instead.

Inside the Belly of the Dragon

Being by water is a very soothing thing for me – the sounds, the waves and ripples, the constant movement – all bring my mind to focus on that moment. Earlier this week, on Yom Kippur, I watched Cottonwood leaves separate from their thin stems and float into the flowing river. If they fell in the calmer part of the waters, they lightly danced and floated along with the water. As they approached the myriad little rapids where rocks hunkered together in a stand against the continual flow, some rushed through little crevices unimpeded and continued their journey down stream. Some leaves were caught on the rocks and pummeled into stationary submission atop them, flattened, fluttering, but not making any forward progress. Sometimes another leaf would come along and nudge the stems, releasing them to continue their forward journey. Many times it took more than just one other bumping companion to release them. Others were pushed to the side where they stuck in the mud, to be buried and become part of the alluvial time machine of life. It reminded me of people, and the flow of our lives. Some seem to travel on and over obstacles without even being aware there was an obstacle. Some get stuck a while and hammered, until someone or something comes along to release them back into the flow of life. And others fall into the mud, never to continue forward again, returning to the dust from whence they came. The overall impression is that life, like water, moves on.

Leaves on Rock

The Cottonwood trees here come in all sizes – some with trunks so massive I cannot even begin to reach around them. I pause with awe, wondering what they have seen, heard, experienced in the time they have lived. The tiny saplings are the new guard, full of vigor, bark yet unworn, unlike the giants, whose patterns in their bark alone are a thing of wonder aesthetically. The fallen and dead support mushrooms in great globs along with a host of little critters scurrying about doing their own thing. Spiders are abundant on the banks of the river, usually in pairs. I can’t figure out if they are exploring together or fighting πŸ™‚ A water bug skated along on top of the moving waters, something I thought only happened in lakes and other calm waters. I tried to find a photo but came up with nothing that looked like the one that I saw. (water bugs in North Carolina are a form of roach, this was not the same!) Everywhere we look, life is moving, the different parts doing their different things.

Since starting to pen this (was stuck in ‘Drafts’!) back in October I’ve traveled hundreds of miles – watched full moons and new, seen dust storms, stood under waterfalls, watched floating lanterns in the night sky, heard bagpipes in the dark, read new books, participated in quiet desert meditations, written poetry, joined a native American drum circle, and so many different things that make life a true joy. Yes, there has been pain and sadness, losses and struggles, as well as new friends, experiences and more joy. Much more joy than anything else. Look for the joy in each day – let your eyes be those of a child again – wonder, exclaim, smile and breathe.

Today is our present. Open it with care and tenderness. Say something kind to someone. Give hugs. Listen with your heart. Be gentle. Watch nature. Go to bed with a contented smile, because you have been present within your present.

View from a bike ride this past Saturday.

“The meeting of two eternities, the past and future…is precisely the present moment.”

Henry David Thoreau

~SE paused on the road

  8 comments for “On writing, and reading

  1. February 20, 2023 at 1:35 PM

    I love the way you start this post; absolutely perfect. When I write, I also kind of laugh at the idea (and discouragement often shows up as well), but in the end, I do what many of us do – type that first word and then we’re off! Put words to paper is art ~ I love the feeling, and even though I know the words will never reach the heights of professional writers around the world… there is still that hope, “maybe one day, the stars will align 😊”

    Much of what you’ve done here, writing about life and having those words move the reader. I heard a saying long ago: writers write to be read, and photographers shoot so their work will be seen… It is something we have inside of us, that we hope in some way our art can contribute to society, even if it only impacts the life of one person (and often, I suppose that it is only of the artist πŸ˜‚).

    Reading this post, your words come alive, and you say it best: “Yes, there has been pain and sadness, losses and struggles, as well as new friends, experiences and more joy. Much more joy than anything else.” And sometimes we do not see this in life, unless we dream about it, ponder over it, or put it to paper. Wishing you many more great travels and stories!


    • February 20, 2023 at 1:47 PM

      So good to ‘see’ you! After I re-read this, I think about how many writers have changed my view of the world – expanded it, taken me places I may never go, shared experiences that remain in the ‘one day, maybe!’ realm (your blog, for one), have taught me about other lives, other minds, other hearts. Reading allows me to leave myself behind and walk in other shoes.

      I’m on a Paulo Coelho kick (free pile book ‘The Zahir’) and also just read “The Shell Seekers”, and have several non-fiction in the pile too. It’s always a toss up for me between writing and reading, haha! Oh, and living, working, muddling through trying to develop my art skills, photography, etc., etc. If only I did not need so much sleep, there would be more time.

      Where are you these days?


      • February 20, 2023 at 2:17 PM

        Agree; it is amazing how something simple like a book expands the world for us… At the start of most days, I always look forward to when I will be able to sit back and read for a bit, but then it never happens πŸ™‚ I stay up late, and I crash hard when I’m ready for bed. πŸ™‚ Coelho is an excellent kick to be on! I have a few more days in the States before heading back to Czech for the spring. The good news, I will be able to read on the plane. Wishing you well and a spring full of happiness (just make it through this last month of winter!).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. February 20, 2023 at 1:46 PM

    Sending hugs!


    • February 20, 2023 at 1:49 PM

      So good to ‘see’ you too, M! Hugs right back atchya πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 20, 2023 at 1:51 PM

        Life good for you on the road, or are you spending more time at home base?


        • February 20, 2023 at 2:00 PM

          I’ve not been back to home base since 2021. But, planning a cross-country trip starting in March to check on home, and to tour the NE sea coast, some place I’ve never been.

          Liked by 1 person

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