Monday, March 7, 2016

a light exists in spring

“How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.”

- Virginia Woolf

“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?...Was ever anything so civil?”

- Anthony Trollope

"This is a quiet book. And it speaks, it speaks softly.

This is a fresh book - recently emerged from nothingness. It is played delicately and confidently on the piano and every note is clean and perfect, each distinct from the others. This book is a carrier pigeon. I write for nothing and for no one. Anyone who reads me does so at his own risk. I don't make literature: I simply live in the passing of time. The act of writing is the inevitable result of my being alive."

- Clarice Lispector, A Breath of Life

I write as if to save somebody's life. Probably my own.

- Clarice Lispector

The subject this morning is light, the subject is spring, the subject is coffee and books and silence and writing to save your own life.

The subject is flowers from Costco and the way books fall apart and age.

The subject is how to remain calm.

We might begin with this link from the Book of Life.

We might begin by considering the opposite of what we think we ought to do. Which is what Tony Hoagland does in this next poem. You know the advice, don't take things so personally, and I've been doing just that lately. Taking things personally, small things, and all that. Even so.


by Tony Hoagland

Don’t take it personal, they said;
but I did, I took it all quite personal—

the breeze and the river and the color of the fields;
the price of grapefruit and stamps,

the wet hair of women in the rain—
And I cursed what hurt me

and I praised what gave me joy,
the most simple-minded of possible responses.

The government reminded me of my father,
with its deafness and its laws,

and the weather reminded me of my mom,
with her tropical squalls.

Enjoy it while you can, they said of Happiness
Think first, they said of Talk

Get over it, they said
at the School of Broken Hearts

but I couldn’t and I didn’t and I don’t
believe in the clean break;

I believe in the compound fracture
served with a sauce of dirty regret,

I believe in saying it all
and taking it all back

and saying it again for good measure
while the air fills up with I’m-Sorries

like wheeling birds
and the trees look seasick in the wind.

Oh life! Can you blame me
for making a scene?

You were that yellow caboose, the moon
disappearing over a ridge of cloud.

I was the dog, chained in some fool’s backyard;
barking and barking:

trying to convince everything else
to take it personal too.


“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.” 

- Ernest Hemingway

“With so many trees in the city, you could see the spring coming each day until a night of warm wind would bring it suddenly in one morning. Sometimes the heavy cold rains would beat it back so that it would seem that it would never come and that you were losing a season out of your life. This was the only truly sad time in Paris because it was unnatural. You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason.

In those days, though, the spring always came finally but it was frightening that it had nearly failed.” 

- Ernest Hemingway

Not quite a year ago, I wrote a post, titled "prescription for calm," and it seems like a good time of year to revisit it. I was just reminding myself the other day: go where the love is. Not everyone will love you, and sometimes your IRL friends will not even click like on your posts, lol. So, concentrate on those who do love you. There are plenty who do.

Perhaps I would add, enjoy the spring, look for those who are, 'as good as spring itself.'

Even so, it's okay to take things personally. It's okay to shout out:

Oh life! Can you blame me
for making a scene?

I keep referring back to the poem from a few posts ago, "God Says Yes To Me" by Kaylin Haught, where she says "I asked God if...." and the reply is "Sweetcakes" "what I'm telling you is / Yes Yes Yes."  

Is it okay to want to be alone and write and be quiet? Is it okay to just be myself? Sip coffee in the afternoon and do absolutely nothing? Is it okay to disappear for a bit? Is it okay to just leave some people be? Is it okay to mess up from time to time and to be utterly imperfect?

Sweetcakes, yes yes yes. 

You have your answer. Though feel free to call yourself dumpling, lovely, gorgeous, angel, sugar.

I enjoy the spring more than the autumn now. One does, I think, as one gets older.

- Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room

This past week was spent fighting off the cold that half of my workmates currently have, running a ridiculous number of errands, trying and failing to write, soaking up the new spring light, reading a friend's brilliant manuscript, trying to keep my household in order, working. You know, the usual.

Is it okay to let your house fall apart a little? Yes, sweet cakes, yes. Is it okay to let a few things slide? Sure, darling. Even J.K. Rowling agrees.

“People very often say to me, ‘How did you do it, how did you raise a baby and write a book?’ And the answer is, I didn’t do housework for four years. I am not superwoman. And, um, living in squalor, that was the answer.”

- J. K. Rowling

A Light Exists in Spring

by Emily Dickinson

A LIGHT exists in spring
Not present on the year
At any other period.
When March is scarcely here

A color stands abroad
On solitary hills
That silence cannot overtake,
But human nature feels.

It waits upon the lawn;
It shows the furthest tree
Upon the furthest slope we know;
It almost speaks to me.

Then, as horizons step,
Or noons report away,
Without the formula of sound,
It passes, and we stay:

A quality of loss
Affecting our content,
As trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a sacrament.

A tree forms itself in answer
to its place and the light.
Explain it how you will, the only
thing explainable will be
your explanation.

- Wendell Berry

Is it okay to be really tired, and to just sink down into that? Is it okay to tell yourself, just do what you can today and then have a big dreamy nap?

I think we know the answer to that....

Wishing you a calm week ahead, spring light, some silence, a good cup of coffee, a sturdy table to sit at and lean your elbows upon.

- Shawna


  1. a lovely start to the week, as always, along with a reminder to be gentle to ourselves. here's hoping that spring will bubble up in our wells of quiet and blossom when the time is right.

  2. beautiful Shawna.. thank you...

  3. That Tony Hoagland poem is so good. So right now.
    Thank you Shawna.

  4. The flowers in darkness -- beautiful.

  5. Thank you for sharing photos, poetry, writing and calm things. I've only been signed on to your blog a month or so and now I look forward to it on Mondays. A beautiful end to the day.

  6. lovely, lovely, lovely -- pictures or poems or your own thoughts? which to prefer. no matter. just what I needed this morning. thank you.

  7. be kind to yourself this week.
    Yes, as I was saying last week, A certain light exists in spring ...

  8. Beautiful, all of it. And thank you for helping me not feel guilty when I want to stay quiet and enjoy my coffee all by myself. xo

  9. Gorgeous - all of it! Thank you.


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