I love this quote and try to pull it out as often as possible. It reminds me that I need not be somewhere “special” – to be alive – or to be astonished by what is and what isn’t.
That my life,
all round cornered safety and hues in neutral
(on the outside)
can be astonishing to my eye, my ear, my tongue, my touch
It needn’t be obvious to anyone else – because I can “tell about it” from the inside.
My challenge this time may prove harder than expected but it is worth the effort – and it requires only a pencil and paper and 10 minutes (or more if you have it). It is worth repeating, often.
The task is to sit somewhere, stop (that may be the hard bit) – and “Pay attention” (may prove harder still) –
Listen to the world around you with all your senses – see it, touch it, taste it, smell it, listen to it all.
Look all around – not just at the distance, look close – look down at the near,
Listen to every sound – your breath – the cars on the road – the roaring buses – the sneaky magpie … the clock on the wall …
Take a deep breath – what do you smell? Laundry soap, rain in the air, coffee going cold
Reach out – what do you feel? Grass (if you are lucky), sand (if you are even luckier), the pleather couch which squeaks against bare skin, the scratched up surface of a table turned desk turned cluttered catch-all/desk, the rug under your feet … hardwood floor … keep going
Where you are says something perhaps about you which I believe is astonishing.
This can be done anywhere – it may be easier if you go outside – away from other people, or bring them along but ask them to do the same thing – as quietly as possible.
Write down what you “hear” – try to show the inside of the moment – does anything remind you of something else – write that – write anything – this isn’t for anyone else –
What astonished you?
It is hard for me to see astonishment in the state of my desk/table/catch-all other than how I seem so capable of making it look such a mess … but I can also see it as a reflection of my days – or more precisely … of me.
“Clay monster faces look out at me across the table – filled to full with the implements of my days, scissors, pencils, pens, markers, rulers, paint brushes – bits and bobs. A broken zipper, a misplaced wooden block, a Christmas bell leftover, a skein of yarn wrapped round a French loom given to me by my mother-in-law. It was hers as a child, made by her father – I was teaching my son, her grandson, his great-grandchild to weave.”
These things I see … as I am sitting here writing to you.
What did you find in your extraordinary moment?
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
William Blake From Auguries of Innocence
The grass so little has to do, —
A sphere of simple green,
With only butterflies to brood,
And bees to entertain,
And stir all day to pretty tunes
The breezes fetch along,
And hold the sunshine in its lap
And bow to everything;
And thread the dews all night, like pearls,
And make itself so fine, —
A duchess were too common
For such a noticing.
And even when it dies, to pass
In odors so divine,
As lowly spices gone to sleep,
Or amulets of pine.
And then to dwell in sovereign barns,
And dream the days away, —
The grass so little has to do,
I wish I were the hay!