Rhyme and rhythm

I’ve said before that writing is as essential as breath to the writer.

So, finding ways to write means that I’m no longer holding my breath.

My father was a poet—although I’m not sure he knew it.

He loved rhyme and alliteration—the creativity and rhythm of it all.

Everyone he loved, he gave a rhyme-based nickname. Mine shall remain a closely guarded secret here. Yet, so many family and friends sat with reticent smiles remembering their lovingly bestowed monikers as we memorialized him late last year.

It may have been his influence that led me first to the belief that my writing gift was as a poet. Although, I later embraced that I am firmly drawn to prose. I am a writer who writes as celebration, as therapy, as offering, and more.

One of the challenges that I’m finding about the current coronavirus-induced moment is that it has completely disrupted my rhythm. The rhythm of my life largely drove the rhythm of my writing—something which I didn’t fully understand until that rhythm was abruptly disrupted.

I write daily—even now although some days it’s utter nonsense.

Some days I write a single phrase or sentence, other days I write for hours.

My general writing patterns before this were legendary.

I wrote in the morning.

I wrote in pockets and crannies between meetings.

I am even one of those people who gets in a deep writing groove on planes.

I’ve also been known to pull over mid drive to capture a thought or two.

I wrote in my work office.

I wrote in coffee shops.

I wrote in the library.

I wrote in botanical gardens and quiet corners of museums.

So, although I know logically that this moment of a global pandemic is nothing I’ve encountered and, thus, I should not be surprised that it would impact my ‘normal’ routines and rituals. I truly thought the transition to writing from home would be smoother for me.

I can quite literally write almost anywhere, so surely I can write here I presumed.

What I have found, however, is that the monotony of writing in the same place, same space—day in and day out—has completely thrown my rhythm into chaos.

So, I’m finding a new rhythm—one that is not driven by the external demands of a life on the move and in which I’m frequently on the go. The novelty of a new space or new view, or the comfort that comes from sliding into a familiar booth of a favorite coffee shop or nook of a commonly visited garden can no longer be the cues that stimulate creativity and word flow.

Now, I’m having to draw on the internal compass that drives the deposition of words from my inner voice to the page.

I’ve said before that writing is as essential as breath to the writer.

So, finding ways to write means that I’m no longer holding my breath.

Breathing is now the new rhythm…breathing oxygen in and expelling carbon dioxide out to sustain my life.

Now I’m also writing to the new rhythm of ‘breathing’ as composition—taking reflection in and expelling out words to make sense of the world through writing which is indeed as essential to me as my lifelong form of breathing—and certainly is sustaining me in this uncertain moment.

What are you learning new about yourself in this atypical moment? I’d love to hear more about it. As always find me on Twitter—@BerondaM.

Spring…as it’s always been & as it’s never been before

Annually in spring I go for regular walks to check-in on my tree neighbors and other annual plants.

I like to follow when the trees and bushes in particular enter budburst and the emergence of their new leaves.

So many of the newly emerging leaves are beautifully red—a process I once studied in oak trees—due to the mass synthesis of anthocyanins. I love to take a weekly walk to see what’s changing rapidly during spring as some plants reemerge anew from the ground or new leaves emerge from deciduous plants and trees.

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Tree with newly emerging, brightly red spring leaves

Today’s walk was my first intentional exploration for spring 2020 and a welcome respite from my day working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It occurred to me as I walked and observed new plantings in neighbors’ landscapes and the newest leaves on my familiar tree neighbors that this spring was in some ways exactly the same as all of my first spring walks of years past—and yet this year is like none before.

My walk was marked by nearly deserted streets. When a rare other neighbor was seen, we both took a wide berth to maintain social distancing even as we waved and smiled in passing.

The reduced traffic—foot and car—led to a quieter walk in which I was keenly aware of sounds, including the humming of electricity, the sound of tires of lone approaching cars on asphalt, the chirping of busy spring birds, and more. There was an absence of idle chats of passing neighbors and friends, a rare heard voice of a playing child. The silence was loudly jarring in ways.

Yet, the silence allowed me to look at even the regular afresh. I stood in awe of the same buds eager to release spring leaves—a process I watch each year, but in the absence of distractions I had a more laser focus and uninterrupted attention.

In our work domains, it feels that we are facing the opposite. We face a time that feels super congested with news of the spread of the coronavirus and skyrocketing numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and associated tragic deaths. Our schedules are congested with trainings and what seems at times endless offerings of Zoom gatherings—whether classes, community gatherings, or business meetings. Parents are trying to balance working from home with running home school classes and managing their own and dependents’ mental, physical and emotional needs.

These personal spaces too likely have moments that seem as if they’ve always been, but more likely your days are like mine full of moments that highlight the reality that we’ve never experienced anything like this before.

I’m challenging myself to reflect upon those things that feel most important moment to moment.

Today that meant braving my first walk of spring to reconnect with the plants that are emerging anew in whole or in part and drawing upon the lesson that they have rested over winter to prepare for this new spring.

I don’t know what lessons we’ll emerge from this crisis with, but one I truly hope that resonates for so many of us is how interconnected we are—even when we can’t experience this connection physically.

Next week I’ll take the same path I took this week to see what changes have emerged. Because of the reality of this moment in our global history, I don’t know how I will have changed over this week, but I draw some peace from knowing that the plants will continue progressing into spring based on their purpose.

I must find the strength to do the same.

If you have comments on this post, as always find me on Twitter—@BerondaM.