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You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum
Welcome to the penultimate session of Haiku for You, a 12-week interactive blog-series where I will help you learn how to write haiku as part of your daily mindfulness.
If you are a newbie, how-do-you-do? My introductory post is here to make you feel well-acquainted with what my series is all about. The rest of us are eager to hear what your haiku has to say. Don’t be afraid. This is a sanctuary from judgement. Every week, I am thrilled by the heartwarming poetry in the comments section that tells me this is having a positive impact.
Now, this session is not about finding the perfect place to be. Instead, it is about appreciating the beauty in small things wherever you are.
Take a slow, deep breath in …
…and then back out.
Today, we are going to write about a theme that has dominated literature for many centuries, an emotion that can make us all weak at the knees:
Thoughts about love
When we first consider love, it can be easy to assume we should be talking about romantic love. However, even though this is one of the most popular throughout poetry, we all know there are many kinds of love to be appreciated. Love in all its forms – when properly expressed and properly received – can do wonders for our mental health.
For you, where does love show itself most unguarded? Is it when your baby first says, “Da da,” or “Ma ma?” Is it in the rosy cheeks of your grandchild while they stretch both arms to be picked up? Is it in the subtle smile of a proud parent or a grandparent who shares the wise words from almost a century of experience? Is it the friendship that always understands what your silence means?
Each family network or friendship group is different from the next, but one thing that enables those relationships to flourish, is love.
Maybe you perceive love to be the unexpected pain you feel when you see someone struggling and want to be able to immediately do something about it. A big part of love is finally feeling selfless, and a big part of being selfless is being mindful of the world around you.
What do you love most about the people in your life?
Taking ourselves out of the equation can make it easier to zoom out and then back in on those we care about. We are all drawn to people for different reasons; some relationships are very intentional, some are unexpected and some seem almost serendipitous, and if we love people, we often want to hold on to them forever.
However, there are also those who are in our lives for a short while, but they have an enormous and long-lasting impact. These could be our mentors, family members, or romantic partners who crossed our paths and left us with memorable moments.
So, what is it about that person who particularly warms your heart? Is it their bellowing laugh? Is it their nervous stutter or their soothing whisper? Is it the fire in their eyes when they talk about their dreams? Is it their funny way of eating? Does this person carry a whole gene pool of yours, that gives you warmth just by looking at them?
How would you illustrate this person if you had to? We have known some people for as long as we can remember, which can sometimes cloud our view. So, take this opportunity to stand back and dust your lenses. Be re-fascinated by what you clearly see and feel.
Why does that person feel like “home” to you?
What do you love to do?
As well as having a love for people, there is a lot to be said about the hobbies that we immerse ourselves in. These are often enabled by gifts, tools, or instruments that allow us to truly lose ourselves for a while.
Do you have a guitar you love to play? Or, an easel you love to sit and paint at? Do, you have a cosy space where you can relax and feel truly safe? Or, is there something completely different that you love to do?
Which moments do you love to witness? Think of the way sunset melts into a darkening sky, the moment everyone notices it is beginning to snow, or the sound of heavy rain on the roof while you are safely beneath it. Think of a baby’s first smile, the stifled expression on someone’s face when the have made a faux pas, or when a group of you end up in a heap of hysterical laughter. Do any of these moments brighten your day? I’m sure you have plenty of your own.
Which moments do you love the most?
Haiku about Love: some examples of my own
Sun sets on Lockdown a couple wait in the wings for their final scene.
Coronavirus - we wash our lifelines away, friends across water.
Masks hug our faces, gloves hold onto their own hands, virus drives us home.
How to write your own haiku about love
Exercise duration: approximately 30 minutes
1. Find a photograph / think of someone you love
Look at their face and recall a happy memory. Consider the person’s laugh or the sound of their voice. Describe in at least three words.
2. How would you describe their aura?
This doesn’t have to refer to any spiritual aura, just the atmosphere or mood this person creates. Happy? Humorous? Philosophical? Gentle? Warm? There is no wrong answer.
3. What colour would you paint them?
If you could choose only three colours, how would you paint this person?
4. How does/did this person smell?
Do you associate them with lavender? Soap? Fruit? Is there a particular aftershave or perfume?
5. How do they / would they make you feel?
Do they make you feel reassured? Safe and secure? Trusted? Confident? Do they make you feel at your best?
6. OR, think about those shared moments and experiences you have encountered
Now, using your notes, write your haiku about love.
Close your eyes and take another deep breath in …
and then back out …
It’s funny. We often hug, kiss and hold hands to express our love for those around us, and yet, sometimes, we struggle to put into words how we truly feel about those we care about. So, I hope writing a haiku helps you honour this love in its deep simplicity.
Thank you for taking part in this passionate and penultimate Haiku for You session about love. I know your haiku offerings will be as thoughtful as always, and I am looking forward to reading each one throughout the week.
Next week, I will bring you the final (whatever will I do?) poetic theme for you to write for your mindfulness. Watch this space until next Monday when it arrives.
Remember, without allowing yourself to be loved, you cannot truly understand the power your love has for others. So, why not use haiku to get to the heart of the matter? As Oscar Wilde said, ‘To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.’
Now, let’s haiku away!
If you are happy to, please leave your beautiful haiku about love in the comments section below each post.
See last week – Haiku about Place