Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Full Circle :: Write Doe Bay

Write Doe Bay :: micron pens on kraft paper
Circles are omnipresent in my life.  I seek them out, create them and wear their symbol around my neck or wrist as often as I can.  They are beautiful, unique and calming.  There have no hard edges and feel complete to me.  Looking around my home I notice circular windows and mirrors line my living room walls, fabrics with little round oblong discs cover my desk chair, area rugs with giant dot motifs selectively cover my douglas fir floors and my drawings of anemone-like shapes are temporarily pasted on the walls above my desk.  Lately, drawing circles feels like quiet meditation and I can't seem to stop.

I've been reading a book by Leonard Koren about the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi.  He states that wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.   It is a beauty of things modest and humble.  It is a beauty of things unconventional.  Once I started thinking about it, I figured out that circles (like the kind I've been drawing) and people are not all that different.  There is so much beauty in the perfectly imperfect.

This weekend I met a lot of circles at Write Doe Bay and slowly over the course of days, we gathered up with all of our differences, expectations, fears and stories and slowly came together like this drawing.  Some had quiet voices, some hardy and loud.  Others were funny, gregarious and self-deprecating.  Some were really good dancers (you know who you are).  The circles I gravitated towards were respectful, honest and made me feel safe enough to share the unedited version of my true story for the very first time.

All were brave.

This workshop dug up one of my earliest childhood memories of writing.  It was in Mrs. Burke's 5th grade classroom back in 1980.  I can still see little 10 year old me making small careful tiny loops across the page, wanting my cursive writing to be neat and readable.  The little Virgo in me wanted it just so, as well as getting the Super! note from the teacher it would receive.  I set about to carefully illustrate the words that sprang from my young mind and settled on a pale blue surround using a half broken crayon plucked from the stash in my desk.  There was bare white space in the middle of the page shaped like an ice-skating rink where my words would rest.  I'd like to share it with you here:


I'm learning to skate on the ice,
It really is quite nice

I can skate very well,
Though it is hard to dwell

I glide on the ice like a seal,
Though it is not very real

It's only a dream,
A great big dream

I'm learning to skate on the ice

This weekend felt like my first ice skating lesson.   I ended up performing circuitous figure eights with 37 other human beings on a pristine, far-flung piece of land in the San Juan Islands off of the coast of Washington at Doe Bay Resort.  It was exhilarating, hilarious, emotional and a bit like summer camp all rolled into one.

Going into the weekend, I didn't really know what to expect.  It started off a bit bumpy, but leveled off once we started to get to know one another and hear the storytellers in the room.  My heart cracked open at the truth spilling from people's mouths, listening to lyrics written by introspective and talented songwriters and succinct, heartfelt words spoken clearly and softly from poets.

What I went to Doe Bay to do was learn how to write a little better and/or learn about people's discipline and their writing process, but what I actually learned was how to have a little more empathy for humanity.  Everyone has a story.  The next time someone cuts me off on the highway or says something rude to me, I'm going to pause and try and remember that they, too, have a story.  The difference?  I just haven't heard it yet.

Thirty-three years later and I'm attempting to write a little poetry as my new daily practice.  That's what inspired me most this weekend.  And here is my offering today:


a raw bundle of emotions 

lay dormant in the pit of me
quite often left alone 
buried deep and dark

jumbled like a ball of yarn

messy and tangled
eager for order

the trigger to release them is fickle
country music 
an unexpected kiss good night
a locked gaze with a new friend
too many cocktails
the truth

they dart through my body looking for an exit
and climb out of my mouth 
and leak from my eye sockets
and reach for a warm body to hold

once busted out of their prison cell
they are wild and frenetic
unpredictable in their path

out in the open they swirl through the air
and land on people and objects around me
quietly, silently absorbed 

my heart open
softly pounding
head down
shoulders shuddering

...or not 
finally free

the ones too scared to be outside of me
quickly float back 
softer, lighter

to be collected 

i tuck them away carefully 
back into the dark pit
with sweet acknowledgement 
in knowing they have traveled

full circle.


Kate said...

Beautiful Tammi. I'm certain this experience will not only stay with you forever, but will deepen your circle and the circles you seek. Thanks for sharing!

nici said...

Tammi I really enjoyed this and you.


"What I actually learned was how to have a little more empathy for humanity. Everyone has a story."

"out in the open they swirl through the air
and land on people and objects around me
quietly, silently absorbed

my heart open
softly pounding
head down
shoulders shuddering

...or not
finally free"

Thanks so much for sharing yourself there and here. Happy to be in circle with you. xoxo

Unknown said...

I think I missed this initially because I would need it another day. Your Full Circle is just what I needed tonight. The lines beginning with, "they dart..." resonate all the way down to the deep dark pit in me. Thank you, dear friend. For this, for sharing your lessons in parenting (how I found my way here) and for the beautiful art now hanging in the sacred space in my office from you and your son. xo


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