Read on and reply!
I just heard an inspiring talk by Natalie Goldberg — a Zen practitioner, a prolific writer, and a writing teacher. I learned in this talk that she still has an inner critic that brutally attacks her writing. I also learned that her latest (fifteenth!) book called Three Simple Lines is all about haiku. There’s an invitation coming for you. Whatever your inner critic has to say about it is not what’s important. What’s important when you write is being kind. Read on…
This elegant form of poetry highlights the sparseness of words. Three lines serve to open up a little space, a feeling of intimacy, luminosity, aliveness.
Haiku is a form we could say is “limiting” but in fact, it allows truth to open up boundlessly. In a moving haiku, just a few words point to an experience we might recognize. And they might inspire us to look more openly at what’s actually here, what’s arising moment by moment.
Because it’s not about the words; it’s about the direct experience. There are metaphors for this in the Zen tradition: The finger pointing at the moon. The menu is not the meal.
a rice bowl
filled to the brim
What are haikus made of?
In her book, Goldberg assures us that we are not limited to the 5-7-5 syllable form so many of us were taught in school in the United States. What’s important is that a haiku opens up a little space. Makes a connection. Encourages us to open our own senses.
Sitting on my porch, in a Portland “Juneuary”, with the sun moving to set behind my house, I look out with an unfocused gaze, catching the sweetness in this fleeting moment…
late spring, late day
infused with honeyed light
Haiku are often pointing to, and thus highlighting the ordinary world — and in doing so we can see how alive is each and every thing. They don’t have to be precious. There’s a book by Allison Herschberg called “I Smell Something Foul: Haiku Expressions of Everyday Angst” with examples (in the 5-7-5 form) like the title poem:
There’s a bump under my tire.
I smell something foul.
or maybe this one resonates:
A trip to Starbucks.
I’m addicted to the bean.
Somebody help me.
Respond below with your own haiku!
It can be an expression of wonder, of presence, of angst… and only you can bring forth something to share from your direct experience.
The result is less important than the looking, the opening and inquiring into what is here. What is this experience of aliveness? What tiny living experience can be magnified and shared?
“We are not our writing. Our writing is a moment moving through us.” ~Natalie Goldberg
About that inner critic?
“Let yourself be kind. And this kindness comes from an understanding of what it is to be a human being. Have compassion for yourself when you write. There is no failure—there is just a big field to wander in.” ~Natalie Goldberg
I’ll share the haiku I receive in the next newsletter (unless you expressly forbid me to). And there may be a surprise gift for a lucky contributor chosen at random!
inviting you to just look:
All of us pointing.