Kim, himself an accomplished poet and teacher, shared his father’s daily practice with me and other students at a Whidbey Writers Workshop residency one January. Since then, I’ve followed the practice, well… not every day, but it’s how I begin my writing time many days. The routine is simple enough:
- write the date (Kim calls this the “open sesame” move; once you jot the date on a page, you’ve accomplished the most difficult part—you’ve begun)
- make notes from a recent experience, connection with friends, an account of a dream… nothing profound is allowed
- record an observation, a list of things you learned in the past week, a free-standing sentence, an idea, a question, a puzzle…in other words, writing of some provisional understanding of daily life
- write something like a poem… or notes toward a poem… or sets of lines that never become a poem.
As the year draws to an end, I’ve been reviewing my writing in poetic lines. Most qualifies as those “sets of lines that never become a poem.” That doesn’t discourage me; Kim says only about a quarter of his father’s notes actually turned into poems.
One entry did catch my attention, though. I wrote it a year ago during my Quaker meeting’s annual Silent Day, and when I re-read it during this year’s day of silence on December 21, the reflection was all-too familiar.
One Day More
in just one day,
I can make up
for all the days
I haven’t centered,
haven’t let go,
haven’t stripped away
all that isn’t essential.
Yet, this one day
is a start,
is one day more
Whatever your practice is, I hope it supports you to be present to all that is essential.