Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Value of Losing Our Leaves

In my reading this week, I came across an excerpt from the poem "A Home in Dark Grass" by Robert Bly.

We did not come to remain whole.
We came to lose our leaves like the trees
The trees that are broken
And start again, drawing up from the great roots.


Photo courtesty of Free Artistic Photos
His words spoke to me on so many different levels. They illustrate the cycle of life, the fact that nothing remains the same. We all have journeys to take, changes to experience, growth to let shape us.    

Photo courtesy of Free Artistic Photos
        
Then as it relates to writing. We did not come to remain whole, to keep our words and our stories within ourselves. We came to lose our leaves like the trees, bloom in brilliant colors, but then let go of our stories, send them fluttering on the wind to distant places, beyond ourselves. Each time we start anew we draw up from our roots, from the things within us that strengthen us, and start over. Thinking of it in this way, as a cycle that repeats itself like the seasons within the perfect timing of God’s universe, gives me hope for those days when I finish a story and it feels like I’ve just used up my last idea. Ever.

I don’t worry in autumn when the leaves turn brown and crisp, that the trees won’t bloom again in spring. The resting phase of winter is necessary. In that same way, I’m learning to trust the writing process and to enjoy every season.


Photo courtesy of Free Artistic Photos
Do you go through a "resting phase" with your writing, allowing ideas to strengthen and grow below the surface before you approach the page?

60 comments:

  1. Ha, this is poignant to me today 'cause yesterday I found my first grey hairs ;) I'm gettin' ooooolder!

    I certainly do go through resting phases with my writing. Sometimes I need to let a certain project 'simmer' for a while, and so I work on something else. Usually multiple somethings else :)

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    1. Trisha,

      I am usually working on multiple projects as well. But sometimes I need to put it ALL aside to rejuvenate. I usually only need a few days, then I'm dying to get back to my writing.

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  2. I have resting phases with my writing. Sometimes I just need to take a break and let my story come together.

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    1. Yep, my stories come to me slowly, most times, too.

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  3. ..."resting phases" are an important part of the penning process. I use it to read the work of others, refresh the brain in order to begin anew ;)

    Love the poem!

    El

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    1. Yes, reading the work of others is the best way for me to refresh.

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  4. I should do more resting...right now I'm in a frenzy. I need to listen to God's voice! By the way, Ruth, I've tagged you on my blog...Congrats! Go to my website for further details: http://4ambassadorsofchrist.blogspot.com/ Take care...

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    1. It's easy to get caught up on the treadmill. Hope you find that time of rest soon.

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  5. I definitely do. I need time to think things out before I ever put anything on paper.

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    1. It's so helpful to acknowledge the value of that rest period.

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  6. Ruth, I've learned that taking rests is absolutely necessary. I used to worry about taking breaks (that that would mean getting lazy); I used to worry about leaves leaving trees.

    But then I read Thich Nhat Hanh, and he says not to feel sorrow for the leaves, for they fall and touch the earth, which will lead them to reunite with the trees in another form. As nourishment.

    From then on, I've looked on Resting as another form of connection. Renewed.

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    1. I love the way you've put it, thinking of it as nourishment. Lovely.

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  7. "We came home to lose our leaves." Powerful.

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    1. Yes, I need to look up more of his poetry.

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  8. I let myself think about a story idea and plan for some time before I write. I need to go through that even if I usually don't end up using my planning because my characters take over. I do think it's important to let your writer self go through this thinking phase.

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  9. The Bly lines are great. Thanks for sharing them.

    Time to think is so important for writers. We all need some quiet time to ponder, dream, work things out. After working nonstop for however long I need to, I crave that time of quiet and really need it to reinvigorate myself to move on to the next project.

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    1. You're welcome, Karen. The poem is great, isn't it? I just had to share.

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  10. Oh WOW! This is beautiful. I love poetry - especially when it can speak to us on so many levels. This is one of the best things I've come across in a long time. Beautiful. And the pictures you've chosen are magnificent. I love it. You'll have me thinking FOREVER on this! :D

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    1. Hi Leigh. I love picking out the pictures for my posts ;)

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  11. This is such a lovely way of expressing that moment of rest... I always used to panic but now I know that if I rest long enough and well enough, I get a new rich idea when I'm ready for it
    Gorgeous post.
    Lx

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    1. I know what you mean, Laura. I used to panic about not being productive during those periods. Now I know that they're necessary and natural and make for better writing in the end.

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  12. Absolutely beautiful post Ruth! I love to come here and feel like I can collect myself. I love the anology of the tree and the cycle of life. Our trunk is our center. It's funny but my daughter is doing some deep work on herself and was using a similar comparrison about the trunk being our grounding and stability and where we gain our strength. Love your post.

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    1. I like that - the trunk being our grounding and stability. I use that same analogy in the YA novel I just finished.

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  13. Yes I definitely go thru the resting part, mulling it all over before starting again. Wonderful post Ruth!

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  14. Lovely post, Ruth! I do go through a resting phase with my writing so that I can toy around with different ideas and scenarios before I spill my thoughts onto paper. I do a lot of this kind of thinking while I'm cooking or doing housework.

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    1. When I come to this point I always think it's going to be a lengthy rest period. I tell my writing group and friends "I'm taking a break from all things writing related." Funny thing is, a few days or a week later, I'm back at it. It really doesn't take long to get rejuvenated.

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  15. What a beautiful post, Ruth! Yes, I need resting periods as a writer. Not only quiet time to recharge my creative batteries, but time to let a seed of an idea blossom into a full plot. I'm always playing dialogue in my head while I'm doing other things like driving or cleaning and sometimes I need to just take a walk or read someone else's work to stop the voices.

    I think we not only drop "leaves" with every story we write, but with every act of kindness we perform that nourishes someone else's soul. I hope that every "kindness leaf" we drop helps others grow to drop "kindness leaves" of their own and the cycle continues.

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    1. Love the idea of the kindness leaves nourishing someone else's soul. Beautiful!

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  16. What a lovely poem and post! I love the idea of writing being like dropping leaves. And yes, I think a rest time is helpful. Ideas need time to formulate. A story, once written, needs time to rest before you can come back and evaluate it. And sometimes, as writers, we need a break from writing to go out into the actual world and experience things and take part - so we have things to write about :)

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  17. Excellent post, great poem, fabulous tree (I do love trees) and yes I do have resting phases. Isn't it sad that some people call them blocks.

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    1. Thinking of it as a block is so negative and sounds so permanent. Recognizing it as a natural phase of the cycle is very liberating.

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  18. Great post. My quiet times tend to be when the children are on school holidays, although I do my best to carve out myself some time early or late.

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    1. Hi Fi, thanks for stopping by. It's so hard to find writing time when the kids are small.

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  19. Yes to rest! If it's forced, it reads forced. Love the tree metaphor! :)

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  20. What a lovely post. I am going to have to let folks know about it. I do love for my ideas to simmer. While I'm riding my horses. That is the best time for me. Or just being at the barn. I have a writing desk down there.

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    1. A writing desk in the barn?! Very cool, Robyn =)

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  21. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about resting and hibernating, like trees. Love your photo illos that went with it. Nice to meet a fellow campaigner. Did you know that you were tagged, this morning when you commented on my blog?

    You've been tagged, Inluv. Take care, Clar.

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  22. What an amazing post. It put me into deep thought about life and writing.

    I do give myself a writing break from time to time, and I do come back better and stronger.

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    1. Glad this one got you thinking, Medeia.

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  23. I do sometimes go through a resting phase. Then I do something completely dumb. LOL!

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  24. Some of my stories start life as a 'feeling'. So, I obviously need a resting phase to let them grow until I have a story. I've just finished writing a story that was inspired by a song - every time I heard the song, the feeling was there, I just didn't know what the story was, until one day it just appeared in front of me.

    Your words are so beautiful.

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    1. Thanks, Annalisa. I often get stuck on songs like that too. They take hold and won't let go until I get what they're trying to tell me. And once I have, naturally, I have to write about it ;)

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  25. This is such a fantastic post. Thanks so much for sharing it.

    ctny

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    1. You're welcome, Courtney. I'm glad you liked it.

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  26. Ruth,

    You've been tagged! Log onto my blog at www.allynstotz.blogspot.com for details.

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    1. Hey Allyn,

      I'm trying to be very quiet and invisible while this crazy game of tag passes. Although I enjoy reading everyone's answers, I've been tagged about a dozen times and I'm sure no one wants to know that much about me ;)

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  27. Wow, this poem speaks to me in many ways too, for life in general and for my writing. I need to ponder this one. Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts. :)

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    1. Glad these words resonated with you Karen.

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  28. I don't usually have a long resting phase. But short ones, definitely.

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    1. Me too, Marcia. I always think I'm going to need a lengthy break, but in a short time, I'm back at it again, feeling invigorated and refreshed.

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  29. Beautiful analogy! I don't give myself enough breaks with my writing. There are just too many ideas swarming up in my head and sometimes I feel my head will explode if I don't them out and down on paper. I don't think this is a bad thing. I love that I have ideas constantly forming as the opposite would be more troublesome and frustrating for me ;) Thanks for joining my blog! Right back at you!

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  30. I've been "poetry minded" lately so this post resonated with me. I will step back from writing to immerse myself in reading at intervals. It's energizing and inspirational.

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