Tag Archives: Light

Light Gathering

I’m obsessed with light.

The first time that light ever made me cry was on our first visit to Florence in 2008. As we walked around the city in the late afternoon, we kept disintegrating into the golden light. Every few minutes, I would turn towards my partner… to see the look on his face and to reassure myself that I had not imagined all that beauty. When we got back to Barcelona, I wrote about it on my blog and my friend Mara Gorman, whom I know only through the magical interwebs, wrote back that, “one could eat the light in Florence with a spoon.” That image has never left me. Eating the light like panna cotta.

I’ve stood under magnificent chandeliers in Venice and Paris and I’ve been dazzled by their beauty. Chandeliers serve as luminescent proof that we don’t have to give up beauty for function. We can have both things in our lives. When I stand under those lights, I have a clearer vision of my best self.

One of my most powerful light-memories is from Japan. Motomachi Street is the lovely granmotherly shopping street near our apartment in Yokohama. Whenever I get the timing right and emerge from the train station onto Motomachi Street around five o’clock in the evening, the light pours down the street towards me like honey. I remember seeing our friend Saka walking towards me in that light and she seemed imbued with magical powers. {Actually, she is. We all are.}

It’s been my experience that life is an intricate dance between darkness and the light.

The darkness. In the last week, the American President sent a series of terrible tweets shaming the Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico and more than fifty people died in a massacre in Las Vegas. It has felt very much like the Dementors are winning.

I was raised in a community where people did what they were supposed to do. They followed the rules set out by schools, by church and by their parents, grandparents and those who came before. They voted along party lines. These are very good people, the very first to help someone in need, but they were taught to fear change and to be suspicious of outsiders.

When people continue to live according to old societal rules without examining whether they fit who we are now, when they live in the belly of fear and suspicion, their collective darkness makes terrible things possible including Trump’s administration.

What if we believed that none of us were outsiders? What if we believed that we belong everywhere and that we belong to each other.

Just asking those questions makes the light flicker. Suddenly the light around us appears more golden, more intense.

Imagine what would happen if we all began to act as though we belong everywhere and to each other.

Even in the midst of this very serious darkness, there is a gathering of the light. I see so many friends, clients and acquaintances choosing what feels right and good in their life… rather than what they are “supposed” to do. It feels like many of us are lighting up at the same time.

Since I was a child, I’ve thought deeply about the meaning of everything. I’ve questioned the way things were done which I realize can be quite exasperating for the people who love me. But I can’t NOT ask these questions. It’s the way I’m built and also the way I’ve created my self. During my Gap Year for Grown Ups, in particular, I’ve been having a a lot of yummy, late-night conversation with my life. (You know the kind.)

One of the discoveries I’ve made is that the more compassionate I am to myself, the more good stuff I have to give to others. If I could view a “soul-view” map of humanity, I’d see that whenever I’m kind to myself, the Monna-dot lights up brighter than before. On that same map, I’d see that that all the dots marking the meeting places between myself and others are glowing softly. Like an intricate network of lights. Like a chandelier.

So, in this way, we grow the light.

I’m going to be teaching a course about what I’ve learned about being kind to yourself and listening to your life. Those conversations will help you create a life you in which you feel more of what you want ~ joy, peace, freedom. A life that allows you to do good work and to help others. It’s called Conversations with Your Life and it begins on Monday 30th October.

I’d love for you to join me for this gathering of the light.
 
 

On Starting and Stopping. {The End of Poetry}

Hiroo

On Tuesday 4th of August I stopped writing poetry.

It wants to be dramatic like that, doesn’t it?

In the middle of February 2015, I started a daily poetry project quite by accident. I had been writing poems almost every day, they came without effort or planning, and I began to wonder what it would be like to write a poem every day. Not just every day, but every day for year. “Why not?,” I thought. I had lots of ideas and lots to say. By writing every day, my writing would improve. And I love the form that poetry takes… the rhythmic pops and weaves, the hard kernels at the bottom of the paper bag of meaning, the small sparkling somethings from a regular day in a regular life in Yokohama, Japan or New York City or Ottawa, Canada. And so I began, poem by poem, to map out my world and the people and emotions I encountered there.

And it was good.

I shared these poems on my blog and on my Facebook page and people let me know, with their words, which poems they loved and, with their silence, which ones hadn’t worked so well for them. But I was not put off by the silence. Every poem found its readership even if that was just one. One Damien or Spike or Jessie or Aynne or Ashley or even myself. The world of a poem is not greedy. It does not demand more space than you can afford. It can be as small as one idea jotted on a Starbucks napkin and folded into small squares in your pocket. A marble of a poem. A one yen coin.

And even though I traveled, this summer, to Bangkok and then to New York and then to Ottawa and then to a cottage I had rented with my family, and even though I experienced a passport mishap (entirely my fault) and the subsequent high velocity issuing of a temporary passport, the poems still came, more or less every day, without stress or worry.

This was also a summer in which I’d decided to take a break from social media. Primarily Facebook and Twitter although, in truth, I have never understood how Twitter works. I feel like Twitter is social media’s great black hole and everything I put there just disappears. So taking a break from Twitter was no great loss but being away from Facebook took a lot of discipline on my part. And then not so much.

And I got to the part of my summer when I was surrounded by other writers, many of them truly lovely people (like kindred-spirit-lovely), and they were sharing their words and images freely, madly and something in me just shut off. Two somethings, actually. The creative something in me that writes the poems and takes the photos, and the courageous something in me that doesn’t overthink the sharing. That one that just jumps. She’s a sparkly bit, that one.

When you write a poem every single weekday, you get to a point where you are just going to tell the truth. Whatever the truth happens to be. This is both uncomfortable and inconvenient. Not nice. It felt not nice to have these true and distinctly unlovely things to be working through and to be faced with the task of producing a poem from those thoughts every day.

There are people who write about the darkness. Stephen King, God bless him. Stieg Larsson. People who have purchased their Writing Palace in a dark realm. That’s not the neighbourhood for me. I’m a real estate agent for the light ~ committed to helping people find the light and then live there.

So I stopped writing poems every day. I did feel a bit guilty at first. I considered writing eight more so that I could claim I had written six months’ worth of daily poems. (We’re such fragile, vain creatures, aren’t we?) But I did not write eight more. I began writing notes on scraps of paper and in my fuchsia pink moleskin and on my phone… notes about what I saw and felt and how all of those things fit together or do not.

With each poem-less day, I thought more about my novel The 37 Impossible Loves of Naoko Nishizawa. Six months ago I completed a shitty first draft. Two months ago, a friend gave me brilliant notes for some next steps. Now, in the absence of daily poems, I am working my way back to that world, to writing a second draft and then a third and as many as it takes to put that story into your hands.

And that makes me really, really happy.

This morning, in Tokyo, I started typing a poem into my phone. It’s about an old woman and a much younger man sitting on a bench in the rain and the art of sitting still and how beauty is God in the world. This is the poem I want to write.

Maybe I’ll share it.

What would you like to start if you could?

What would you like to stop?
 

Loomingness

new shadows

There is
sometimes
a loomingness,
long shadows
that appear
and dance
and hint
at some
things
dark
and darker.

When you rummage around in the messy
drawer of your mind and finally turn up
an old silver flashlight held together by rust
and you locate the right sized batteries
and shine your flashlight on the spot
there’s nothing there. Nothing at all
and you wonder if you’ve made it up.

But loomingness can’t live in the light.
 

One Day in Rome (for remembering)

It’s just after 6:00 a.m. in The Eternal City called Rome.

I had forgotten how loud Europe is… and the enormous passion with which the Italians conduct their daily lives including the parking of their cars and the greeting of their neighbours early in the morning.

I had forgotten how the gorgeous sunlight spills down over ochre walls making the whole city appear as if it is in love.

I had forgotten how perfectly Europe fits me.

Yesterday, on my first day in Rome, I began to remember. (Sometimes, images are so much better than words.)