Last night at community dinner, we did an exercise which was meant to replace/augment the normal process of sharing with one another how each of us is doing, what we are thinking about, how we are feeling, etc. Usually we’d just go around in a circle and have each person contribute whatever she feels like about herself, but last night we decided the contribution needed to be slightly more formal: we each took roughly 45 minutes alone with pen and paper, and wrote, either in poetry, prose, or a mix, the answer to the questions “where are you?”, “how are you doing?”, and “what are you feeling?”.
The idea was to imbue some more constrained object (a few paragraphs of prose, or a haiku, or a rant) with a more focused, albeit artistic, answer, with the hope that this presence would be actually a more meaningful way to share than just saying verbally whatever would have come to mind. Indeed, I was very surprised at the level of depth I felt we were able to achieve, seeing as we were working with a significant economy of words; in fact, when we came back together and read what we had written, we had enough time to go around twice, in order to further understand people.
Hopefully at least a few of us will post what we wrote on our weblogs here–I’m going to start with my work of the evening, entitled The Amnesiac Shipbuilder. It’s a story.
Land, that once felt safe and so sweet Now a detestable spit of sand What gave life and surety to feet I'd banish if I thought it would heed a command Water to drink is no good if it keeps Life alive but alone, incomplete Fruit follows suit, it belongs in the deeps If health is all that there is in this heat I have in the wreckage a thousand tomes Whose wisdom's satisfied a thousand men But my adventure lies not at home-- Useful a shipbuilding book would have been! Resignation is my lover at night With whom I wrestle sensuously But her charms are not even close to delight And in daylight, I spurn her contemptuously Laziness would no doubt have been my bane If I thought effort could affect But helplessness never gave one gain Unless him for rescue did God (or fate) select Either one would be fine.