Finding Everyday Inspiration: I write because . . .

great books of the western world, great ideas today

Why do I write? At its most basic, I write to find out what I think, or, what I am thinking about. I write prose to discover, to remember, and to understand. I write poetry/prose poetry to discover how I feel about what I think.

I have journaled since my high-school years. Previous to that, I took in information whole. I don’t recall making any value judgments. Nor do I remember thinking about the emotions I experienced when I was a child. They were exterior to me. Which isn’t to say that I did not experience emotions. They simply did not transfer or communicate the experience to my thinking self.

Secondly, I write because I am not in dialogue with anyone, anymore, except with my husband. Having a joint life, we communicate freely about common and individual interests, thoughts, and feelings. He is so much a part of me/the world in which I daily live, that there seems to be no I/Thou, but instead, us. Dialogue with—dare I say “outsiders”?—serves the same purpose of discovery. I discover thoughts, lines of thought, and deep truths within myself. That I then write, to clarify for myself my thoughts, reactions, feelings, and related values.

Related to writing, I recall Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages”, which I do not write in the proper manner, because I get allergic reactions to my hand’s rubbing against paper, and in more recent decades, cramping in my fingers that cuts short the physical experience of writing.* The discomforts derail my trains of thought. Second, I don’t seem to have “unloading” to do. Burdens carried that must be spewed forth onto the page in order to be dealt with and forgotten.

I loved to write letters, but ran out of people to send them to. People who might read them and respond. I suspect that my thoughts are majorly boring, aside from my short poetry. I sometimes wrote letters with no intention of mailing them. It’s almost like corresponding with someone else, because I went back over the letters and reread them. Like favorite books written by favorite authors.

I have discovered—we have, we siblings—that our parents maintained correspondence throughout the war, no matter where they each were stationed, and again when our father was called up during the Korean Conflict.  That encourages me, finding out that writing volumes (and also, taking photographs, which we have in plenty from before our parents met and throughout their lives), that my sense of self-awareness and the need to take notice/note of my surroundings and interior life is a family trait. As has been voluminous reading. Reading through letters written between them, I realize how much, how deeply they were involved in each other, through good times and bad, until the very end. And now beyond.

Writing. It’s like talking to myself out loud while taking a long walk through the pastures and thickets and along the river. Everything seems more clearly defined. Manageable, or not, but more real.

* * *

*Our mother, who used to do typing exhibitions at her state fair when she was in school, raised a brood of touch typists, I suspect. She considered typing (keyboarding) to be a survival skill, and her skills transferred over to her computer keyboard.

Copyright © by E. W. Bennefeld. All rights reserved.

 

July 26: A pair of poems

the squirrels in the back yard at winter

At Home

“i did not want to trouble her”

i would not trouble her
with present reality
the look behind her eyes, knowing
that she did not know,
worrying what she’d once again forgotten
that should always have been remembered

i’d said good-bye a month ago,
then left her undisturbed–
living cherished, not alone
in the simple “now”

i could not trouble her,
insert myself…

let her long-feared flaws and failures
drift by unnoticed
to the end of the beginning
of eternal life
together once again with her mother
and her beloved father
those she never, through it all, forgot

Copyright © 2017-07-26, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

 

if I do not remember

if I cannot remember you…
my love, let me go

let me not remember either
all the rest
or, fearful, fret
at what i’ve lost
that leaves me with such
emptiness

losing you
losing the clear, sweet memories of you
i’ve lost everything

let go the empty shell

“if I do not remember”. Copyright © 2017-07-26, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

These poems, although I posted the second one today on my poetry blog, belong together. Remembering is a way, I think, to let go of grief by understanding the loss. In this case, the loss of my parents, this last winter.

To Turn Back the Tide

edge of town, looking south

The Edge of Memory

“To Turn Back the Tide”

…and when the tide had turned,
when waking from long sleep, I found
that all was swept away
or reconfigured
beyond memories

Who am I in this new world?
If there are paths
I cannot see them … yet

If I should go to sleep, again–
if I would sleep–
until the tide rolls in, once more,
would the safe, familiar world
that I once thought I knew–
believed I lived within–
be here before my eyes,
my heart,
to welcome me?

And if not? Then…?

“To Turn Back the Tide”. Copyright © 2017-06-28, by Lizl Bennefeld.

 

Transition points feel foggy … nebulous … like standing on a piece of ground that cannot be seen or felt. Like wading at the edge of an unknown body of water, depths and currents still to be discovered, with morning mist cloaking the past and future in white and shadows. Memories, the only solid ground.

Inspired by The Daily Post’s photo prompt for this week: Delta.

Getting It Right

blue wild flax flowers, shadows and light

“Getting it Right”

I write the story of my life
one day at a time, taking care
to leaf through previous pages,
editing events, adjusting
back stories, tidying errors
and casual mistakes
that I would not have made,
had I known then what I think
I know today…subject
to further alterations
as seem prudent at the time.

There is time. There is always
time to get it right. There is
an eternity to get it all right.
Written out finally with no mistakes.

Copyright © 2017-06-10, by E.W. Bennefeld.

I had at one time, encouraged by others, considered writing an autobiography. As I go through the process of adjusting to my parents’ deaths, I realize that that would be the wrong avenue for me to take in grieving. Better, bits and bites in poetry and limited explorations in prose.

I have other things to do with my time, and I most probably will not have time to get it right. Not in this lifetime, anyway.

NaPoWriMo, Day 30 – “Tulips at Springtime”, “The Future”

Prompt: Something that happens again and again.

“Tulips at Springtime”

One year soon after I was married,
my mother ordered tulip bulbs
to be planted in the fall,
sent all the way from Holland,
from the farm on which they grow.

She planted bulbs and gave us some.
We placed ours near to those
my husband’s mother planted
many years ago to complement
the lily tulips favored
by the folks who’d come before.

My mother’s gone, his mother, too,
but still the tulips grow.
I wonder if the children of
the folks who lived here
half a century ago remember,
too, the blooms that grew,
planted by their mom and dad
and maybe them.

first flowers
the last memories
tears…always

“Tulips at Springtime”. Copyright © 2017-04-30, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

Prompt: The (blank), replace “blank” to make the poem’s title.

“The Future”

My father’s final worry,
which he took to his grave,
was his children’s children
and their children living
in a world in which
there would no longer be
clean air or water,
healthy food or crops–
a world in which the haves
would eat the have-nots
when the time had come
that nothing else was left.

“The Future”. Copyright © 2017-04-30, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

Note: This poem is loosely based on a description of one of the last conversations he had with his oldest son, before our father died in February. My father had strong convictions about the expanding effects of climate change and what it would mean for the next generations. At age 100+, with no health problems to speak of, Father decided, one evening, to take a nap, and didn’t wake up, again.

 

NaPoWriMo – update

I’ve gotten a bit behind in putting my daily poems onto the net. As I may have mentioned, (maybe not here; maybe just elsewhere), my husband is building a workshop in the back yard (18’x24′ — lifelong ambition), and I have, of course, been helping out a bit. (Heavy lifting and such. Yes! Really!) I have yesterday’s poem ready to add, and I’m going to do that before I dig around and find the others. I do not know what happened to a couple of them, and so must do some searching.

In the meanwhile…snow!

NaPoWriMo17, Day 13 – [untitled]

text of poem

A Poem
written 13 April 2017

 

failing light
along the dark path
fireflies

at star rise
fish dance in the light
of moonbeams

night sounds call
my head nods over my teacup

[untitled]. Copyright © 2017-04-13, by E.W. Bennefeld.

I have tried to do the bare minimum, and still I feel overloaded, and I want simply to lie down and do nothing at all until at least February of 2022. That not being feasible…I think that I will fix a large salad and reread a favorite book.

NaPoWriMo17, Day 10 – Frost

I wrote this poem while thinking of the photos that I have taken of frost that often decorates my windows when the temperature and humidity cooperate. Much less in recent years as the winters are warmer and the most recent central air heating/cooling system discourage frost ferns.

frost

winter’s fingers paint
white murals on the windows
intricate and fine

sunlight reflects the colors
that tint nature’s works of art

“frost”. Copyright © 2017-04-12, by Lizl Bennefeld.

SFF Net and grief

Among the losses that I am mourning is the closure of SFF Net, of which I had been a member since 1997, I think. Believe I didn’t get a newsgroup until the next year.  Yesterday I had my first in-person meeting with C., the grief counselor from the local offices of our regional Hospice association. My late mother enjoyed hospice services during the two months that she was in a nursing home, until she died at the middle of November. (Fortunately, the rapid onset dementia protected her from awareness of the national election results.) Our meeting was productive and relaxing. C. is easy to talk to/with/at; she is skilled in keeping conversation going on track, encouraging the general rambling that produces relevant information and genuine emotional responses. And she seems to enjoy my poetry, saying at one point, you’re very good at that—or words to that effect. It was fun to orient her to the members of my immediate family and activities/interactions before any of the children (of which I am the oldest) had left home to attend college.

I have purchased the latest edition of Stress Management (2012, 30th Anniversary), completed the life event checklist for the past 12 months (total was over 300, again), and reviewed the muscle relaxation and imaging exercises for relieving physical stress in my original paper copy.

April is, I understand, national poetry month, and I have, against my better judgment, committed myself to writing at least one poem a day for the next thirty days. A group led by a woman who was one of the members off the WritingChat group that I joined during the nineties. We’ll see just how long that lasts.

The new floor is installed in the kitchen, and I have moved out cookbooks to dedicate one set of shelving to holding the everyday pots and pans. The second, four-shelf unit is holding paper plates and bowls, dog paraphernalia, blood pressure kit, &c.  I still need a proper mop and bucket for wet mopping the floor, which is vinyl. May it never overheat!

 

Outside, again

The temperature is high enough, again, to sit outside in the gazebo (out of the sun) and read the news, watch the dogs play and listen to my husband’s latest wood-working project in progress. I don’t often use this small computer/tablet, and I find that cannot find all of the keys when I need them. I think that I need to find the touchpad settings and make it less responsive. At the ends of sentences, or when I simply pause, I find that when I am ready to type, again, the cursor has returned to the beginning of the line (or page).

I had a nice selection of photographs and things to say, when I retired for the night, but I turned off the lights and went to sleep, instead. This morning I was awakened by a telephone call from a local who had found my phone number on the Internet in connection to my former (as of 2012-12-31) business. I am loathe to give it up, since it’s been my number since I moved to this town in the late 1970s.

I have made connection with the hospice worker, who will be dropping by later in the week for a nice visit. In the meanwhile, I downloaded the current ebook edition of my Stress Management go-to book (30th Anniversary edition in 2012, and I believe I bought the first edition shortly after it came out). I reviewed and went through the muscle relaxing/awareness procedures. Realized as I did them mindfully that I have continued using them over the intervening decades. My life changes for the past 12 months total over 300 points. ::sigh::  I think that I will incorporate mindful practice of the physical exercises in the daily routines.

My puppy is pacing. I must see what he wants.

WeekendCoffeeShare | 26 March ’17

Monday is so far in the past, I hardly remember it, now.

Welcome! Thank you for dropping by for coffee, this week. There is Toddy coffee, hot or cold, made with water, milk, or both. Many kinds of cheese for nibbling while we visit.

My weekend has ended with a special treat. We went to Denny’s for supper, and I ordered the salmon skillet. Very good, but entirely too much food. I expect to get two or three more meals from it. With restaurants, I know, there may be a broad range experience within the same franchise, but the one here in town usually does pretty well.

My week has been a bit spotty, but I finally managed to brush my teeth without opening up the extraction site again. Still hasn’t hurt worth mentioning, though. I had a nice visit with my doctor to check up on the progress with the diabetes 2. Met the goal that she had set for the A1C when we met at the end of December, which was my ~2-week visit after the diagnosis. The numbers are going down (the A1C by more than 4 percentage points). As is the cholesterol and my weight: I now have lost 21 pounds since December 13th.

I find that I am extremely tired at the end of this week, however. Since getting through all of the rough stuff fairly well, with nothing on the schedule for the next two weeks except helping with the workshop construction in the back yard and getting to the dogs to the vet towards the end of the second week, I have found my thoughts turning back to my parents. I find that my sharpest memories of them are from when they were in their late seventies and going forward. That was, I think, when we spent a lot of quality time together as adults. Mom, more than Dad. When I think of them, I realize that as with myself, they probably thought of themselves as … ageless, or at least in their thirties or forties. I miss them a lot, although not as much as I did during the last years of their lives, when they turned inward and toward each other’s company and mutual support.

I wonder if this is the time to give the hospice organization a call and check on the grief support services available for the 13 months following Mom’s death, she being the one who was under hospice care during the last two months of her life, when she went into the nursing home.

This Weekend Coffee Share post is on a different site. It isn’t set up to automatically feed my posts to the search engines and such.

Hope you have a good week!

Lizl

Link to this week’s post by our host at Nerd in the Brain. Enjoy!