Friday, October 15, 2004

Pay Attention

It is a cool rainy day here at Riverwood and I have spent most of it reading and writing. Pure joy indeed.

Right now I am sitting here with a mug of hot, cranberry-apple tea and it smells as good as it tastes. MMMM good. The day is so dark I need the table lamp beside me turned on and that makes for a nice warm cozy circle of light to sit in on this cool dull day. The rain is pouring down outside the window and from my comfy spot on the couch I can see the pine trees on the hill bending and swaying in the wind, trying to dodge the raindrops. I think the trees are losing the battle.

We spent most of the morning inside the snug farmhouse reading and writing, but before lunch we donned our rain gear and went out for a walk. What fun. I do love to walk in the rain if I can keep myself warm and dry while doing it, so we suited up and set off bravely into the downpour. We walked along the old logging road and then veered off onto the new Riverside Trail, which is lined with trees and follows the river north of the farm. I kicked wet leaves with the toe of my waterproof boot as raindrops tippey tapped on the hood of my raincoat. I felt like I was inside a warm cocoon as I sauntered along. Such a nice feeling. Pine trees filled the air above my head with a sweet fragrance and the earth was covered with a jewelled, carpet of leaves, beneath my feet. Fallen leaves alive with vivid gemstone colours – ruby red Maple leaves, topaz gold Beech leaves, amber yellow Ash leaves, tiger’s eye brown Oak leaves and emerald green moss were all sprinkled with sparkling diamond rain drops and made a magnificent rich display. The River looked like a pewter chain winding through all the jewels. What a grand and glorious walk on this cold rainy day. I am so glad we ventured out into it.

I have been reading Raymond Carver’s poetry lately and last night he introduced me to Antonio Machado. In Carver’s poem “Radio Waves” he mentions Machado and the advice he gave to anyone who asked him what they should do with their lives. “Pay Attention!”
Those two words stopped me in my tracks. How profound. Just pay attention to your life. Look! Listen! Touch! Smell! Experience it and pay attention to all of it.

Later in the evening I was reading Julia Cameron’s new book “Sound of Paper” and she also challenged me to “pay attention” to everything around me. I felt chills run up and down my spine when I read her words so soon after seeing the same words in Carver’s poem just hours before. I perked up my inner antenna and really paid attention at that point.

Cameron goes into a whole chapter on paying attention and how it will open up your writing, painting or anything else you touch with your creativity. If you liked her book “ The Artist’s Way” I highly recommend “The Sound of Paper”.

I tried to pay attention to every detail of this day and it really did make for a rich full day full of joy and pleasure. Try it, you will like it!

I am just about to pack up my laptop for the weekend so won’t be writing much for a few days. Company is coming for dinner tonight and will stay until Sunday. I am looking forward to the visit and will “pay attention” to every moment of it.

I hope you have a good weekend too. Pay attention and then write about what you see, hear, feel, taste. I look forward to reading what you write and also sharing my observations with you next week.

Talk to you later.


Lynn said...

Glad to hear you are reading Ray Carver's poetry. I took his collected poems off the shelf this week. I can always find something in his poems that I had not noticed before.

Lynn said...

It is nice hearing from you. I have been enjoying reading about your adventures in the backwoods. It sounds wonderful.

I think that the first poem I read by Carver was "Margo" which was in the book The Art and Craft of Poetry by Michael Bugeja. And then I read some more of his poems in the splendid poetry anthology, A Book of Luminous Things, compiled by Czeslaw Milosz who passed away in August. Those poems were "The Window", "Wine", and "The Cobweb". They are some of my favorites.

I like "Thermopylae", "Wenas Ridge", "Sunday Night","Gravy", "Balzac", "Spring, 480 BC", and "Hummingbird" too. But it is hard to pick the favorite poems by somebody with whom you are in thrall.

When I get stuck writing, I think of his "Sunday Night":

Make use of the things around you.
This light rain
Outside the window, for one.
This cigarette between my fingers,
These feet on the couch.
The faint sound of rock-and-roll,
The red Ferrari in my head.
The woman bumping
Drunkenly around in the kitchen ...
Put it all in,
Make use.

And when I think about love, I think of his great poem "Hummingbird".