Tuesday, December 30, 2014

how you breathe

Being a Person

by William Stafford

Be a person here. Stand by the river, invoke
the owls. Invoke winter, then spring.
Let any season that wants to come here make its own
call. After that sound goes away, wait.

A slow bubble rises through the earth
and begins to include sky, stars, all space,
even the outracing, expanding thought.
Come back and hear the little sound again.

Suddenly this dream you are having matches
everyone’s dream, and the result is the world.
If a different call came there wouldn’t be any
world, or you, or the river, or the owls calling.

How you stand here is important. How you
listen for the next things to happen. How you breathe.

Stafford's poem is one that I want to hold, take with me, clutched to my heart, into the new year.

There's nothing like the holiday season to remind one of one's imperfections, one's failings. How we want to be might scrape into how another person wants to be. I'm not so great, I have failings of understanding, just as anyone does. There are people who don't like me, who don't like what I write. I'm rejected as often as the next writer, perhaps more. At times I'm so exhausted, but I'm also tired, weary, dull. I'm cranky and increasingly eccentric. I don't always appreciate the season I'm in. I waste time. I'm anxious. I worry until my scalp hurts. To come clean, I'm not always calm, nor wise.

But. Every day is new. Start where you are. Stand. How you stand is important. Begin, again. Hold what you are able to hold. Wait. Breathe.

I write this as a reminder to myself, as I listen for the next things to happen.


  1. Beautiful poem. Beautiful photos. Start where you stand. Oh my, yes!

  2. oh yes, so true, all of this. As a side note, whenever I think about becoming increasingly eccentric, I remember the comforting words of a woman who is/was (we've sadly lost touch) friends with Robert Lepage. After she talked a bit what it was like working with such a gifted but at times an unusual and challenging person, I asked her wasn't it tiring to work with someone with an "artistic" personality and she said, flat out, no, she was thankful for eccentric people like Robert Lepage - life would be so incredibly boring without them. Now, isn't that the truth?! Her words have brought immeasurable comfort to me whenever I worry I've wandered a little too far from the conventional path (which, really, isn't likely too far at all). xo p.s. someday I really hope to knit something inspired by the colours of your blog... so beautiful!

    1. My fiber work is inspired by many of the same things that inspire the writings here.
      My guess is that if you are a knitter and enjoy this blog there is already a sympathy.

  3. What a wonderful poem to clutch to my heart as I take the first steps into a new year! Thank you Shawna for all the inspiration and your consistent, mindful, calming posts throughout the year. ( LISTEN is my word for the year).

    1. What an excellent word! Warm wishes for the upcoming year.

  4. One of my New Year plans is to continue to read here.
    You always speak to my heart.
    I was given your book, Calm Things as a gift this season.
    And I thank you for your generous heart.


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