Friday, January 8, 2010

An Average Life

This is poetry’s province; a form of deep memory; a place from which to witness the intangible, unspeakable thresholds of incarnation we misname an average life.--From The Poetic Narrative Of Our Times, by David Whyte

The same mist I drove out of this morning at 8 a.m. hung in the trees at 2 p.m. when I returned with the kids from school. At dusk, thicker still when I step out the front door for newly split madrone, startling a deer from behind the truck where she’d been feasting on gutter acorns out of the mounds of dumped leaves of Oakmont and elsewhere. I watch her three darting leaps up the hill, listen to an owl settling, hooting, in the top of a Doug Fir, wipe the black bark sludge from my hands….a few of my father’s old fence boards into the stove, and the madrone soon catches. While soup simmers, I sneak in a few sentences of an email to Denmark on the kitchen counter laptop, though something (timing of the Gods? obsessive 360 surveillance at 30 second intervals?) causes me to glance over my shoulder, in time to see my 3 year old under the table where he’s managed to plug in the iron and set out a few large silk napkins like his sister did last week. So matter of fact, intent, I have to admire his careful movements.

I finish the job for him, ironing his “cape”, tying it about his shoulders; then, rummage for a new undisclosed location for the iron. Naked but for his warm little cape and superhero boxers, he throws his arms around my neck, demands to give a kiss of thanks on my forehead. I carry him outside, where we listen together for the owl—a long moment. But dusk has deepened, the woods silent. A moss-damp, mist rich stillness.

Which invites listening. Attunement. I talk often with my mother friends about rhythms of togetherness and apartness—how as one’s children grow, one’s need for retreat changes. After eight years of raising children, I’m surprised to find occasional moments of shared solitude—if there’s such a thing…often in the woods (listening for owls) on our acre, or out at the ocean, the sense of renewal is as good with my family as when (if) I’m alone. (Or is that the result of writing regularly at night when they are asleep, or the result of no longer breastfeeding--no longer sleep deprived or in total hormonal uplink with the youngest).

I sense a heightened collective listening as we enter 2010. David Whyte’s post, The Poetic Narrative of Our Times, raises some beautiful concerns. Whyte writes: It may be that we live in a time of collective heartbreak, where for the first time in history we are being asked to witness the disappearance and reappearance on a global scale of what it means to be fully human; to give away our identity and see how it returned to us through a sincere participation in the trials and necessities of the coming years. Opening with descriptions of night mist and mountain-scapes, Whyte uses nature to ground his accurate but sorrowful observances and gives sobering examples from political as well as family life scenes to make his point about how much we stand to lose. On a positive note, he suggests, It might be liberating to think of human life as informed by losses and disappearances as much as by gifted appearances, allowing a more present participation and witness to the difficulty of living. He calls on poetry to give an “unflinching” view of life on life’s terms, with all of its "terrible beauty" (see the rest of his post here:

As a fond straddler of present incarnation and night time dreamlife, I’ve noticed a paradox: the more deeply I relax into my body before falling asleep, the more likely it is I’ll go lucid that night in dream. As if the “aloha” to each individual cell fires their imaginations to let go of their anchors and congregate in the astral body, take flight, out of the constraints of time and particular incarnation. I think we’ll need to inhabit both: earth as well as star realm, present incarnation as well as those of our dreams, in order to forge a consciousness our planet and our children might survive.

Further reading:

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle—I’m halfway through this excellent compilation of spiritual understanding—with its “evolve or die” call to growth.


Nicelle C. Davis said...

Dear Tania,

Thank you for this...
it is always a gift to be redirected towards the true "pleasures" of this world.

Thank you as well for the David Whyte link...what a great read.

Best Wishes,
Nicelle Davis

Jeannette said...

Yes, loving what is, your cells, your children,the hoot of an owl, while yet knowing one is but astranger and sojourner, helps.

Your writing is so fluid when it is grounded in the daily, the close, the "average."

Tania Pryputniewicz said...


thank you. Would love to guest blog on topic of hybrid poets--still recovering here from storm damage, etc, so I won't commit yet, but I'll keep checking your Bees Knees blog to see what you are up to.

Tania Pryputniewicz said...


thanks for your encouragement; like you, I am often stunned to realize the quiet modest rows of journals from years of living have nailed it better than any "essay" I set out to write as a "writer." Sometimes tough to maintain that in a public arena. But that is the whole point...isn't it...