The Entry Point

Growing up, I was never sporty. But I enjoyed hanging out in sporty circles, where my sporty sister’s suitors sometimes mistaken me for her. I was mostly a book nerd, and sometimes a floater in between high school social groups.

I eventually developed a decent amount interest in sport, and I still play tennis, badminton and Frisbee golf, among others. But it’s only when I hike (long distances) that I’m really in my element.

In summer 2015, I incurred a knee injury; a torn meniscus. You can attribute this to my enthusiasm in touch rugby, at a mature age. Up until then, I’ve never broken a bone or torn a muscle before, only minor sprains.

The injury took months to heal, age was a factor. In addition, the orthopaedist had advised against surgery. And the strenuous work I was doing at the time made things worse, I was constantly on strong painkillers. In the end, I left the job.

It was painful to be limited as I was on crutches. But it was silence that was most acute. I felt so alone, even though my husband did everything in his power to support me and allay my fears. I would wake in the middle of the night shaking and drenched in sweat. I had unreasonable nightmares.

I was afraid that I’ll never be able to hike and backpack in the wilderness again. This might sound trivial or dramatic. But I thought what would become of me, if I’m not able to write again. Because walking/hiking is my writing’s point of entry.

A Short-lived Poetic Romance

One day on my way to the library, I met a boy. The handsome but rather short boy stepped in front of me and smiled. Without any formalities but eye contact, he broke into a performance, and much to the amusement of students who were sitting in the foyer. He was reciting Keats’ Endymion, for me.

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

As a 17-year-old fresher, I stood transfixed with embarrassment and praying for some kind of miracle to save me. After what felt like eternity, he finished reciting, smiled and left. The highly-entertained crowd was still clapping as I, too, continued on my way.

“How did he know Keats was one of my favourites?” Embarrassment turned into excitement, I was flattered by the attention. When I got to the library, I abandoned all intention to study for an exam that was coming up the next day, and instead headed for the poetry section. As I cuddled up with Endymion, I realised he had recited the whole first stanza; 24 lines! I was impressed. And so, ensured the crush on a nameless boy.

Osteospermum / South African daisy

note: I’m in a serious poetry writing funk, right now. I’m writing everything else, but poetry. This makes me feel as unsteady as the ocean. So, I share this piece (an excerpt of a longer essay I wrote to answer why I write poetry) as way to remind myself that (for me) poetry is a spontaneous overflow…I can’t force it.

Looking Back

It’s the Day of Goodwill. The morning is crisp, and the rural landscape a hero dazzles at subzero temperatures. I watch tits through the window gently jostling each other as they feed from the bird table. They seem oblivious the year is winding down. But I take stock. How did I fare on my intention to simplify?

I smile. Not because when I answer the question, “What did I do right in 2019?” I can tally a handful of achievements I’m proud of. But because a squirrel that has been scurrying around a tree, from branch to branch, measuring distance to jump in order to reach the bird table, finally gives up.

Simplifying turns out not to be as simple as the word implies. I’ll say this, clearing physical clutter is a yawn. But the emotional one…try your hand at grasping a shadow! In a nutshell, 2019 had been a year of accepting things as they are, aligning values with action, and letting go of what no longer served me.

Tits remain active, flutter from feeder to the tree and back. They are in their element. And their freedom of being is just so natural as they occupy that space. I ask myself, “What stops me from taking up space?”

Tits sitting on a branch

For Poets and Storytellers United.

note: Happy New Year, Everyone! 🙂 Hope it started well for all. As it always is, with updates and changes, my site is sometimes unresponsive. Please bear with me as I try to fix this issue.