Existence. Being-ness. Reality. Mindfulness. Presence. Universal Time. Whatever you call it, this Force we call Life has an inimitable way of standing silently behind us, removing its hands from our eyes, and revealing the unexpected to us in the most curious of ways. Its gloved hands fly away from our eyes!
This is your life now, lovely person. Now what are you going to make of it?
That’s the thing about Life. It offers startling choices . . . even when our stuck-o-meter is flailing and railing wildly in the red zone. Surprise can engage our optimism, our critical thinking skills, our intuition, our excitement, and our sense of adventure. It can also kickstart our pessimism, our assumptions, our moodiness, and our negative default systems.
Whichever way you react, you are going to be getting up close and personal with whatever it is that simply "is" in real time.
The Oh-Oh! and the Yippee! of Surprises
One thing we all know and can relate to: We like the surprises that we want . . . not the ones that we don’t want.
Sometimes the unexpected is a delight; other times it is perceived to be a burden that we must carry forward until we can untangle its secrets and make some sense of it. Either way, we feel mandated to weave it into our lives.
We want to believe that we are still okay and on the same page as we were before Surprise came barging its way through the crowd to shock us, sometimes spiraling us into a state of panic. After all, in an ideal world, we would have time to process, schedule, and plan for the unexpected, right?
The Inconvenience Factor of Surprise
Well, not always. We don’t mind a tiny shift but, please, not too much. Please, do not push us too far out of our comfort zones. We want reassurance that life won’t change all that much. That we are going to be okay. That our definition of status quo is only going through minor adjustments. That we will get back on track very soon. That life will resume its neat and tidy predictability.
I don’t want change today, please. Autopilot is just dandy for now.
Have I been sleepwalking?
But how long can we remain on autopilot? During these past weeks, unexpected and impossible events have carried with them these strange-some, unseen powers that have scooped me up and put me into places of personal retreat . . . the places that allow me to consider, heal, and regroup. To ask hard questions and wonder where have I been?
Have I been sleepwalking?
While in my bubble of retreat, I have turned off all social media and have avoided headlines that pop up on my computer screen. I aim conversations toward the inane and the mundane – toward unimportant, neutral things and away from matters of global importance. So anyway . . . how about those Mariners? So anyway . . . did you hear that it might be sunny on Saturday?
I find a measure of stillness in this bubble. Still, knowing how time, gravity, and matter have their way with us, I know that these sorts of bubbles don’t stand a chance as a permanent state of being.
Surprises test us on the inside. And on the outside. Sometimes our smiles aren’t as quick; our responses are a bit delayed. We filter our comments and hesitate to speculate with both the optimists and the pessimists. I woke up the other morning after a night of fitful dreams and, while brewing my coffee, I heard a quiet voice saying:
Don’t give up your poetry.
I scribbled these words on the back of a bill on the kitchen counter on my way out the door, thinking I would maybe pick up this thread of thought when I got home later in the evening.
I didn’t give these words another thought until mid-afternoon when I overheard my favorite barista talking about how defeated she was feeling with regard to current political and social issues. As I took my beverage from the bar, I surprised myself – and her – by saying, “Don’t give up your Poetry, Kate.”
She looked at me and paused, forgetting the long queue of empty drink cups behind her and asked, “What do you mean?”
Well, I didn’t really know what I meant. By letting my heart speak, the words had just burbled out of my mouth, and I felt more than a little foolish. Being an introvert, the last thing I ever want is to sound like I am preaching or pushing or proselytizing about anything.
But my heart was still in talking mode, and I told her that no matter what surprises we get in life, we all carry within us our own neat and artistic and beautiful and concise images of Poetry.
- That when we let our Poetry speak through us, in word and in deed, we create beautiful ripples that will not – that cannot – be stopped by any other force.
- That if we don’t give up our Poetry, we are better able to make sense of unpredictable outcomes.
- That we need not be fearful, negative, or pessimistic.
- That our Voice can be exercised in ways that cannot be blocked, stopped, or zapped.
- That sometimes in life, Poetry is all that we feel we have left to us.
- That Poetry carries beauty forward.
- That every little thing is going to be all right – or at least we can hope so.
That Poetry will always transcend hopelessness.
The Un-grammaticality of Hopefully
I was once told by an editor that there was no such word as hopefully. That hopefully is a meaningless word, and it was not to be used in any of my future submissions henceforth.
Having respect for this editor and her years at the helm of editing all things written, I remember feeling chided for being such a goof. Now in these crazy surprising times, it makes me laugh to think that I felt intimidated by this editor's idea of "correct" morphology revolving around the powerhouse of a word hope.
Whether this word was in accordance with the rules and constraints of prescriptive grammar, I no longer care. No Longer Caring is the gift that hindsight affords us when we find ourselves in the midst of new surprises and not-so-hopefully situations. Looking back on that moment in time, I suspect that this editor may have temporarily lost her Poetry.
As we ease forward into the winds of change, revolution, and surprise, take heart. Give your Poetry its Voice.
What are some things you can do to give Voice to your Poetry?
1. Listen for a heartbeat and tap it.
2. Ask yourself, What is it saying? Give it permission to speak.
3. Pay attention. Let your heart be guided by the coincidental, the serendipitous, and the miraculous.
4. Don’t edit your version of hopefully. And don’t let anyone else edit it either. Embrace it, express it, live it, share it.
5. Attach your Poetry to the kite string of Surprise and hang on for the ride. Take in the view and the rare air. When the winds die out, you will find yourself landing in some completely new territory.
6. Let your imagination be guided by your Poetry and your Poetry be guided by your imagination. Feel the circuitous nature of belief and hope and strength that is reflected in your Poetry.
7. Honor your Poetry with the reverence it deserves. You were uniquely created. Now go forth and be a mindful expression of this uniqueness. Just be you and trust.
8. Encourage those who have lost their Poetry. Listen and encourage. Ask questions. Keep the flow alive.