The Outer World

For some days, I’ve been working on a post for this blog. It’s about my writing practice, as it has evolved over the past couple of years. It’s a struggle. Hard to focus. I mean both my writing practice and the writing of the new blog post. The world is too much with me. Then tonight I was re-reading an article by Kim Stafford, a poet and son of William Stafford; the latter being one of my favorite poets and a true inspiration. In this article, Kim Stafford outlines the 4 elements of each entry in his father’s daily writing practice. He would date the page, write some prose notes on his experiences, write an aphorism or something to elevate his thoughts, and:

Then he would write something like a poem… or notes toward a poem… or just an exploratory set of lines that never became a poem. To write in poetic lines, rather than prose — this can begin a process for distilling from ordinary experience the extraordinary report of literature. For this day, again, you give yourself a chance to discover worthy things. Nothing stupendous may occur… but if you do not bring yourself to this point, nothing stupendous will happen for sure… and you will spend the balance of your day in blind reaction to the imperatives of the outer world — worn down, buffeted, diminished, martyred.

Yes, that’s it. That’s where I am. Buffeted. I feel like my mind has been dragooned into service of the national psyche and its soul-sucking obsessions. You know the ones I’m talking about and it’s not Game of Thrones. Well, it’s sort of like that. There is an army of the dead and a lot of guys cheesed off that their slaves have been freed. But I digress.

Of course it’s good to be informed, but not influenced. And these days, we are all a’swimmin’ in opinion and very little objectivity. It’s good to be aware of the situation, so long as the situation isn’t fraught with anxiety and exaggeration – cognitive distortion. Is it possible to be prepared for an uncertain and potential chaotic future without being constantly worried – terrorized? I think we owe it to ourselves to try.

“It is likely that some troubles will befall us; but it is not a present fact. How often has the unexpected happened! How often has the expected never come to pass! And even though it is ordained to be, what does it avail to run out to meet your suffering? You will suffer soon enough, when it arrives.”

Tomorrow there may come cold wind and rain. That doesn’t mean we need to sit in our homes tonight, soaking wet and shivering. Instead, heads on a swivel and eyes on the path, right?

There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone.

Yes, I need to follow my path. I must discover worthy things. And take a few good notes.

Wish me luck.

Oh, and one more thing, lest I be accused of ambiguity:

2 thoughts on “The Outer World

  1. Yes! Exactly. Reminds me of Roethke:

    “I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
    I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
    I learn by going where I have to go.”

  2. These days it’s hard for me to put my thoughts on paper, or on this machine, because where do I start? And if I start, how do I end?

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