Monday, February 23, 2015

Word of the Week - 51

Wonderful photo by JR Woodward of a rainy day in LA.
Word of the Week:  SEASONAL

My childhood memory of February skies displays them as cloudy.  After two weeks of sunshine and some record temperatures, Saturday morning arrived with a more expectedly seasonal overcast and Sunday the same.  Rain in the afternoon, rain heavy enough to hear which is not always the case.

Within the past few weeks two friends mentioned keeping notebooks of how they spend their days.  One has maintained this activity since 1984.  I find such consistency admirable, enviable and so far outside my experience that considering it leaves me bewildered.  I think if I kept such a record, assuming I noted the weather for each day, which would be a simple task, a few words, I would know just what the sky was doing on a specific February day.  I even ordered a notebook similar to one a friend described, attracted to her vertical format for listing bullet points.  The book arrived a week ago.  Getting in the habit of using it challenges me and using it with flair and color and creativity, as she does, feels like trying to teach myself Mandarin.
A shared Facebook post from Brain Pickings offered Mary Oliver talking about habit.  It is an article I need to read more than once, allowing time for a good soaking-in.

"What some might call the restrictions of the daily office they find to be an opportunity to foster the inner life. The hours are appointed and named… Life’s fretfulness is transcended. The different and the novel are sweet, but regularity and repetition are also teachers… And if you have no ceremony, no habits, which may be opulent or may be simple but are exact and rigorous and familiar, how can you reach toward the actuality of faith, or even a moral life, except vaguely? The patterns of our lives reveal us. Our habits measure us. Our battles with our habits speak of dreams yet to become real."

What is habit if not a practice of consistency or a dedication to it, intentional or not.  I think about being consistent, which I equate with being reliable, as one of the hurdles that confronts me.  It has a lot of company.  A daily jotting of words or phrases to preserve time seems an especially worthy habit.  I trust it is one I can learn.

10 comments:

Kass said...

How much more could I love Mary Oliver? I don't know.

My dad was a bank executive and kept a log at work of every 15 minutes of his life. I think he might have thought that he would be called on in some legal case and he could use the consistency of his journal in his or someone's behalf. I have these logs in my basement, along with a lot of other journals. What do I do with them? I like to think I am a selective hoarder, but I don't think anyone in my family really cares about the records. What is the point of being 'the keeper of the flame' if no one fans the fire?

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - I know what you mean about Mary Oliver. If she had only given us "let the soft animal of your body love what it loves" it would have been enough. As I have been learning over the past couple decades to live a contemplative life, I hold the greatest admiration for those who are especially skilled at it and who find the precise language to share what they've found.

I am going to assume that the day has not yet arrived when your father's logs and all the other journals will speak to you, tell you the reason. What I imagine as I read your description is simply sinking into the fact of them (another object to use as a time machine) and allowing yourself to be in those other places and times. Then you will know whatever comes next. And those who keep the flame are performing an act of faith. I say, keep on. xo

Kass said...

Yikes, Marylinn - I love your response!

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - Thank you. xo

Just Jen said...

something I've done in the past to cement a new daily practice until it becomes a habit ... tie it to another ingrained 'daily'. [think: brushing teeth ... one doesn't even consider NOT doing it. it just IS.] by adding it as an "after" ... so write for 10 minutes AFTER nightly brushing ... it becomes an easy-to-do, easy-to-remember ritual. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Jen - Thank you, a sensible, not-too-weighty approach. It seems a place to begin and 10 minutes would be such a difference from none. xo

Sylvia Hines said...

I am struggling with habit in my new retirement. My work had proscribed my habits for the days and often evenings and even weekends. Now those habits have been transcended by freedom which has become an inner drive to create new habits. Habits that come from me, not from the boss. Habits that are driven by my heart and soul rather than a paycheck. But I feel so lost at the moment; so immobilized by the emptiness. You, my friend are much better with the zen of nothingness than I. But I am inspired by the thought of a journal and colors again; a helpful friend which I have ignored for many years. Perhaps it's time to revive it again.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Sylvia - Change itself can be so disorienting. The smallest shift lands us in unfamiliar territory. The first thought that comes to me is the person who borrowed your car for years has finally returned it. Where will you go? A journal and color give the means to explore possibilities. Remember how working with The Artist's Way and The Morning Pages catapulted all of us into whatever wanted to come next? A place for armchair travel, for trying things on while you acclimate to this strange, new life. I am excited for you. And happy to continue this discussion. Perhaps my greatest lesson has been about patience, coming to know that all is process, that oft-mentioned unfoldment. To adventure, my friend! xoxo

Sylvia Hines said...

What an interesting metaphor...the car. I have begun literally to think about car trips to people and places I miss or want to see. Now, to get the tools and settle into the space to pull that inside and identify the soul trips. Me being me, of course do not want to wait the wait that must be. Just when I think I have developed more patience, I bump into the wall again. Thank you so much for the memory of the Artists Way and Morning Pages. It brought you and Patricia and the CA sunshine to me in this below zero place and time. Thank you my friend. I raise a glass to this next step on our journies.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Sylvia - From the 12-step meetings, "...as we trudge the road of happy destiny..." You seem very clear that the exterior nudging urges the pondering of, as you call them, soul trips. I suspect it is not possible to have too much patience. When I am not pushing my agenda, I do have more resources for the real work, in whatever form it takes that day. May we thrive, flourish and become surprises to ourselves. xo