I think everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone, and how you talk. Your smile and your personality. What you believe in, and all your dreams. The way you drink your tea. How you decorate your home. Or party. Your grocery list. The food you make. How your writing looks. And the way you feel. Life is art. Helena Bonham Carter.
“I am a poem!” It is a bold statement, I know, especially in this weather, under the layer upon layer of Smart Wool and polar fleece, with thick-wintery socks stretched up high over snow pants, and a down jacket zipped to the chin. In this winter of record cold here in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, in this bundled-up snow gear, in boots that are gravel-stained and ice-torn, how can I possibly profess to being a poem?!? And yet, sitting on my living room couch surrounded by my beloved writing sisters, that’s what I wrote the other day. “I am a poem!” And granted, the words flowed through my arm to my pen and onto the page during a forty-five minute free-write in defense for the garbled scribble (I might even call it “shit”!) that came before it. I was saying, in essence, that it doesn’t matter if what I am writing is making sense or sounding like poetry; what matters is that I am living and breathing and that is a poem in itself.
It’s true. We are all poems. Even during the most frigid three months on record, even when the cold hasn’t released its grip as February tips into March, even now, on this windy sub-zero day, we are all poems. We live in these amazing bodies, warm-blooded light-filled intelligent bodies. We think with minds that soar to the greatest heights even as we plod through snow and skitter on ice. And there is a part of us even bigger than our ever-expansive leaping and dancing minds, a part of us that can guide these minds into thoughts that feel good. And that is poetry, too, to steer our thinking toward the amazing details that are here before us, ready to be feasted upon, moment to moment.
In yoga, each session, while lying on our backs, we exhale our arms up to the sky and soak down through our fingertips the gifts of our day thus far. It would be impossible to list in our conscious minds all of the gifts that have come our way in a single day, and yet, the practice keeps us mindful, reminds us that our days are laden with poetry. And sometimes, the gifts are dramatic. This past Monday, in the evening session, while guiding this exercise, my mind flashed back to a moment five days earlier, one that I had completely forgotten. The Wednesday evening before, my husband Cam and I had flown across the Atlantic to Paris for a romantic weekend in the City of Lights, flown on a plane that was nearly empty, with row upon row of seats to choose from. I chose to sit in two seats by a window, with room to lay my books and papers beside me, room to watch the movies, to curl up and sleep. And there was a moment, the moment that rose up into my mind five days later back in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the moment that is now pressed into my being, that I will never forget. While the other passengers slept, sprawled out over their many seats, I breathed in the soft sleepy moment and opened my window screen and leaned heavily against the plane’s side wall, peering out into the wide vast middle-of-the-night. And there was the moon, huge and creamy and lit up. It was as if we were flying along side of it, as if I could reach out and wrap my arms around it, and the sky, the sky was our sea, our sea above the sea, and the stars were the glimmering shimmering fish. And this, this was poetry.
But what about the moments back here on earth, back here in the cold wintery weather, the moments that might not seem nearly as dramatic as a moment sailing over the Atlantic through a nighttime sky? Aren’t they poetry too?!? I sit here at my kitchen table while the sun streams in and the tulips in the bay window, candy-cane pink in their cobalt blue vase, are lit up by this sunlight, sunlight that is brighter and more intense than it was just a few days ago, and the drifts of snow behind them on the deck look like windblown waves and a goldfinch sits on a maple branch above this frozen sea. It is a good moment sitting here appreciating this scene. It is a good moment sitting here appreciating my life that is poetry. And appreciating your life that is poetry as well. And appreciating Joy Center that is filled with poetry. Poetry sings in its walls that were built with joy-filled hands. Poetry sings in its offerings, sometimes quietly in a yoga session, sometimes filled with the color of creative expression in an art workshop or a cooking class, maybe a class on the healing properties of chocolate, or an Out Loud evening where stories and movement and songs are center stage. And during the month of April, our nation’s Poetry Month, Joy Center will celebrate these poetic lives we lead with several special events, including four different evenings of readings where we can sit back and breathe deeply and feast on the rich buffet of details that are laid out before us.