As much as possible these days, I play the game of intuition on the weekends. I have designed a “no plans” lifestyle for myself, which allows for complete freedom of being during my non-work hours. The game of intuition, for me, means acting as instinctively as possible, moment to moment, from basically the moment I leave work on Friday afternoons until going to bed on Sunday evenings.
Today, Saturday, was a slow start. It’s exceptionally warm in my third-floor apartment as I do not own or operate an air conditioner. And, baby!, this summer is shaping up to be a warm one.
Despite the heat, I woke up around 10:30 a.m. with a lot of energy. Immediately, my mind generated the question: What should I start with? As in, which of my personal projects should I get cranking on? There are several to choose from.
A deeper part of me answered, You don’t have to get started on anything. Your brain, five days a week, is accustomed to waking up and springing into action mode. You have been conditioned, along with the rest of the working world, to DO, DO, DO. But here and now, it’s your time to kick back and just BE.
I took the order. I chose to stall until receiving real inspiration to act.
An email from my mom came in around 11 a.m. “I may head off to Algoma or Kewaunee to stick my feet in the lake and read under an umbrella,” is how she signed off. After reading the email, I continued to urge my inner voice to let me know what it’d like to do today. On days like these, I literally ask my self, If you could do anything you wanted with your day, what would it be? The voice quickly answered, I want to go to the lake with my mom.
OK, so she lives four hours away, and I do not own a car.
Just the thought of spending time near natural water with my mom put me in a sweet and gentle vibrational atmosphere. It was endearing just to think about. Despite giving me a somewhat unfeasible impulse, my intuition still guided me to a pleasant place—in thought.
Fast forward a few hours. I took a cold shower and then walked seven blocks to a good coffee shop, ordered my favorite drink, and sat down at a spacious table against the back wall, near the window and plant shown above.
The project for the day was to review my notes from a class on Modern Poetry I took with Dr. Vescio the fall of 2012. The ultimate goal of reviewing these notes was to purge them, because I am on a path to travel lighter and lighter through this life. Now, almost six years after the class, and after just as much time periodically reflecting on it, I have decided it’s time to expose myself one last time to the physical pages of original notes.
So, how did it feel? It felt great to realize, first of all, that my memory serves me well. For the few hours I spent at the coffee shop, I was a senior in college again. Reading through the notes, I felt what I felt then, but through a lens six years wiser.
Now, how am I wiser?
Well, generally: I have a way more unified, coherent, satisfying worldview than I did as a college student.
Specifically: I have a healthier relationship to language and to being a writer than I did as a college student.
Those days, I thought that all the greats — Yeats, Eliot, Pound, Frost, Stevens, Crane, if we’re working under the Modernist umbrella — were slaves to language. I thought that, to be great myself, I would need to be a slave to language, too. Not only a slave to language, but also to the tradition of it. I thought, how could I be worth my salt as a poet if I did not thoroughly ingest the entire literary canon first? How could I contribute if I was not working firmly from the foundation? Meaning, how could I write if I had not read and understood everything that came before me?
Now, I see a complete role reversal; that is to say, language is my servant, not vice versa. And, as discussed in Vescio’s class, the strength of a poet depends largely on the poet’s ability to evade what Harold Bloom calls the “anxiety of influence.” A poet is better off if she can keep giant voices of others at a careful distance from her own. In her own works, she is better off keeping “tradition” at bay.
To be clear, Vescio did not profess that literary giants were slaves to language; this was completely my perspective at the time, and it kept me feeling small for quite some time.
Now that I am 800 words into this post, and it is 11:30 p.m., I have decided that I’ll continue to wax poetic on, well, my poetics, in future posts.
The day and the evening, post coffee shop visit, rounded out with a totally instinctual bike ride around Lake of the Isles, Kenwood Park, and some peaceful residential streets with gorgeous houses in southwest Minneapolis; a vegetarian dinner; a kiwi for dessert; and now this blog post.
Last night, I made a new painting that I decided to call Lake Harriet in June. Check it out here.
To yet another magical weekend,