“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” — Pema Chodron
These are awake times, as Pema Chodron describes it. Fear, uncertainty, loss and grief are throwing so many of us out of the nest. So much is at stake.
I want to share with you a line from Wallace Stevens’ poem A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts that I’ve been reciting like a kind of mantra for the past 25 years.
Fat cat, red tongue, green mind, white milk
Why this line? Because it keeps me grounded in the opportunities of observation. It rocks me in iambic rhythm. It’s a kind of poetry blankie.
A lifetime of writing poems has taught me there may be only one thing in life we have complete control over, and that is our attention. When I manage to remember this, I can choose whether to focus on what I lost or what I learned from it. I can choose to rest in the beauty of the world by devoting myself to the unfurling of each next, right word.
White dog, red boy, green field, fat mind
One observation at a time, I write myself into alignment with sound, image, sun, and sky. Each word can hold me as long as a breath before letting go.
This doesn’t change the fact that I’ll be thrown out of the nest today, and again tomorrow. Words can’t spare me the fall. Yet paradoxically, when I give my attention to the blank page of groundlessness, writing becomes more like sails. Or wings. I discover how to move with life’s currents and find my place among its agonies.
How does writing help you navigate uncertainty? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
Wishing you soft landings!
P.S. Whenever you’re ready, here are four ways I can help you produce, polish, and publish your best work:
1. Get your free copy of my Focus + Finish Blueprint for Writers
You’ll complete a one-page strategic plan to work smarter and complete the writing that matters. Click here for yours.
2. Grab your Poem Revision Cheat Sheet.
Follow 10 simple steps to polish your poems for publication, so you can revise with confidence. Get your free download here.
3. Create 5 publication-ready poems.
I offer a close craft review to help you revise and finish five poems—plus learn more about your strengths and opportunities as a poet. Get all the details!
4. Work with me privately.
If you’re a serious writer focused on finishing or publishing an important piece of work, I can help guide both accountability and craft to make it happen. Just hit reply, put “Launchpad” in the subject line, and I’ll get back to you with more details.