Recently I reread the original edition of Robert Fulghum’s book “All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten”.
I first heard one of the stories from this book when it was read to me in an Accelerated Learning course. The story was called “Where do the mermaids stand?”
It was a story which spoke to me and it was one I often read to women in self awareness and self esteem courses I ran.
So what is it about Robert Fulghum’s writing that appeals to me, that speaks at times profoundly to me and which can cause me to nod slowly in agreement with him or to laugh out loud with him?
He is interested in quirky things; he comments on the ordinary things in life; he laughs at his own quirks, idiosyncrasies, habits, beliefs and behaviours and in some way makes allowances for the reader to have the same bumbling, complex humanness.
He finds value and enjoyment in the great diversity amongst us all. He reminds us that we are all simply trying to get on with life in the best way we know how; he is keen on opening and easing the mind and in so doing expands the heart.
He offers some very simple observations around what makes us extraordinary people and some really simple guidelines that help make life work.
I really like his style, approach and attitude and it is with interest that I learnt from his website that in 2003 the 15th anniversary edition of this book was released. Fulghum has revised and expanded the original essays. The preface is new and there are 25 new stories in it, all of which tell us that ordinary events can hold universal insights.
While we have the gift of life, it seems to me the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die – whether it is our spirit, our creativity, or our glorious uniqueness.~
US actress & comedienne (1946 – 1989)
Found in the book “Back from the Edge” written by Meg Carbonatto: “Even great lives are lived one day at a time.”
I found this quote in a book I am reading by Alicia Salzer, M D, entitled: “Back to Life – getting past your past with resilience, strength and optimism.”
“In a world blinded by the pursuit of pleasure, I am here to say that people are in pain. In a world rushing to get ahead, I am here to say that people are being left behind. In a world obsessed with the value of the market, I am here to speak for the value of life……and I am alive. This will be no quiet fight, for I am the voice of audacity in the face of apathy, I am the spirit of bravery in a world of caution. I am commitment to action in the face of neutrality. I am alive.”
Dan Pallotta, activist/survivor
The photo shows a small part a 600 year old Rimu tree in Otari-Wilton Bush Reserver, Wellington, 2007.
Over the weekend I saw this suggestion for encouraging writers to write. Begin sentences with “I write of”. Here are some of my sentences from today:
I write of nature because it contains so much beauty, power, rhythm and a space for me from the pressing things of life.
I write of things quirky because I have a sense of humour and a curiosity that enjoys such things.
I write of the ordinary and the good to offer a balance against the glitz, hype and unpleasant that occurs in our world.
I write of the ordinary and good because I know the value that both offer to me and to others.
I write of simple traditions such as cooking for others, writing letters, gardening, knitting, singing in a group, walking, spending time with people we love and connect with.
I write of books simply because I love books.
I write of books because they have helped me in a myriad of ways throughout my life.
What do you write of?
Another prompt I found was over at http://concernedwithstory.wordpress.com was to write beginning with “Right now….”
So for me today, Monday 25th July 2011:
Right now I am very grateful for heating, warm clothing and warm food on such a cold day.
Right now I can see the birds enjoying the apples I have hung for them for winter food.
Right now I am pleased to have paid the bills and grateful for having the money to pay them.
Right now I am wondering if my cat will increase his food intake.
Right now I am processing the information I received about a family member who served in WW2.
Right now I am thinking a lot about resilience and the notes I made this afternoon.
Right now I am pleased to have fixed the errors in the socks I am knitting my grandson.
Right now I have meal preparation to do so I am off to begin that:-)
When I ran self awareness groups I would use a “Right now” exercise at the beginning of the session to help clear the immediate, scattered stuff that was “on top” for participants. Once this happened, focus was easier for everyone in the group.
Writing “right now” sentences offers me similar but different clearing, focus and more.
I’d be interested in your discoveries from writing some “Right Now” sentences.
Here is an old saying that seems to have relevance to many aspects of our lives and our roles in life:
” When you are up to your butt in alligators, it is difficult to remember that the initial objective was to drain the swamp.”
“Life always gets better when you treat yourself better.” Robert Holden, “Shift Happens! Powerful Ways to Transform your life.”
So this leaf caught my attention as I tidied up in the garden last week. I was struck by its delicate lacy patterns and the fact that it was still intact despite its dryness and the holes in it. ( Apologies for my photography skills or lack of them:-))
It had caught my eye and so I sat and contemplated the leaf. Here are some impressions that came to me:.
Initially it reminded me of how vulnerable we can feel at times in our lives, when holes seem to have appeared in our protective coating and it feels as if there is only a patch or two holding together.
Then I thought about how frail the leaf looked at first glance but upon closer inspection, it is in fact still strong. How often do humans of all ages find themselves in a frail state but something within them is still strong and enables them to move on with life in time.
We can feel stripped bare of so many parts of our lives at times but our basic framework and structure holds us together firmly enough and enables us to rebuild.
Despite decline and ageing we all have a deep beauty to reveal.
While the leaf was once lush and green, now that it is dying we can see all the many tiny aspects of it that have supported its life. We have a multitude of aspects to us that are not always visible.
The tiny veins of the leaf were integral to its ability to stay alive by providing its means of nourishment. The veins drew this nourishment in and helped remove any waste. What are the myriad of ways we need to draw in life and shed the things we don’t need?
The leaf was once part of a tree but had its own special function in that bigger picture.
What is your part in the big picture of your family, community, society and life itself?
” Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts”. Rachel Carson.
The complexity of the leaf mirrors our complexity in so many ways.
What do you see in this leaf?