Tag Archives: Poet

A Lark, a Mug and a Dead Poet

6 Dec

I have a “carpe diem” mug and, truthfully, at six in the morning the words do not make me want to seize the day.  They make me want to slap a dead poet.  ~Joanne Sherman

I have come to the end of the 6AM Writing Challenge, in which I decided to wake up at 6AM to write every day for a month.

Firstly, let’s get one thing straight – I only managed to get up at 6AM on eighteen out of the thirty days in the month. Not only did fatigue catch up with me towards the last week, but the dark skies and the very cold, morning house took away the comfort, the fun and the pleasure from writing. Towards the last week, I was no longer looking forward to waking up so early in the morning to write.

Yet this discomfort taught me a great lesson – I realised that writing isn’t always fun or enjoyable. Writing is made up of hard work, persistence and dedication.

Despite the discomforts, waking up at 6AM to write created some very positive effects in my life. Firstly, seeing as I wrote first-thing in the morning, I didn’t have to try to make time for it later. This meant that I wasn’t worrying about trying to find half an hour here or fifteen minutes there to write during the day. I had a clear conscience and got on with my day without thinking about writing. In addition, writing in the mornings allowed me to spend time on ‘home and family’ in the evenings.

Secondly, I gained several extra hours in my day. On most days, I did more things in the morning than I usually do in a day. This extra time also gave me the opportunity to start my day slowly, without any rush to get ready.

However, my greatest discovery during the Challenge was the positivity and energy with which I lived out my days. Whether it was biological or psychological, waking up earlier gave me a great sense of satisfaction and fulfilment. On days when I decided to have a lie-in and woke up at 9 or 10, I felt great disappointment at seeing that the morning was already over.

All in all, the 6AM Writing Challenge made me realise that having a daily writing practice requires some sacrifice (in my case – sleep) and some discomforts (the dark and the cold). It also showed me the beauty of greeting the sunrise and of dedicating the first hours of my day to an activity I enjoy. In the end, I think I quite enjoy being a lark…

girl running field arms stretching sky sunrise

Love the Solitude

24 Oct

Much that may one day be possible can already be prepared by the solitary individual, and built with his own hands which make fewer mistakes. Therefore love your solitude and bear the pain of it without self-pity. The distance you feel from those around you should trouble you no more than your distance from the farthest stars. Be glad that you are growing, and realize that you cannot take anyone with you; be gentle with those who stay behind. Be confident and calm before them, and don’t torment them with your doubts or distress them with your ambitions which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Find in a true and simple way what you have in common with them, which does not need to change when you yourself change and change again. When you see them, love life in a form that is not your own, and be kind to all the people who are afraid of their aloneness.

Rainer Maria Rilke
Letters to a Young Poet
Worpswede, July 16, 1903

Live the Questions

5 May

Teenagers are known to feel lost and confused, unsure about their path in life. Yet the incertitude and perplexity of adult life is less frequently mentioned as a ‘natural’ psychological phenomenon.  For me, it is the dissolution of a fixed and compulsory structure to follow, after years of ‘being told what to do’, that has often led me to feel utterly disorientated.

As a child or an adolescent, your life is guided by the school system. Each year is separate from the other, each year has its goal, and each year is neatly divided into terms with holidays in between. You know exactly how to plan your time, your week, your month and your year within these structures. You also know that after hard work (exam preparation) there will be a reward (long holidays). And you know where you will be the following autumn and what you can expect of the following year. You know that school has a purpose: it will either get you into university, or it will get you a job.

In ‘grown-up’ life there is no set structure, there are no set holidays, there are no set guidelines, no mentors, no breaks ‘between years’, no rewards for working hard (promotions and bonuses are not guaranteed each year), and, sadly, in the majority of cases, no purpose apart from earning money.

School life is like a road trip, where adults drive you from city to city. You sit in the back seat, enjoying the ride. You are told the distance between each city, so you know when there will be a good view, when you can doze off, and when you have to get out to explore the outside world actively.

In grown-up life you are the driver, having barely got your license. You have no idea how long it will take or how far away it is to the next town. You have no map and no GPS to give you directions. You have to decide independently the places to drive through and those to stop at and explore, without a guide to tell you which sites are worth seeing. And amongst all of the hitchhikers that desire to share the journey with you, how to tell which ones are worth taking along on the ride, and which ones it’s best to leave on the side of the road?

The best perspective I have read on dealing with life’s uncertainties is that of the twentieth-century German poet Rainer Maria Rilke…

I want to ask you, as clearly as I can, to bear with patience all that is unresolved in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves, as if they were rooms yet to enter or books written in a foreign language. Don’t dig for answers that can’t be given you yet: you live them now. For everything must be lived. Live the questions now, perhaps then, someday, you will gradually, without noticing, live into the answer.

Rainer Maria Rilke
Worpswede, July 16, 1903
Letters to a Young Poet

Through All That Happens

6 Feb

“As you unfold as an artist, just keep on, quietly and earnestly, growing through all that happens to you. You cannot disrupt this process more violently than by looking outside yourself for answers that may only be found by attending to your innermost feeling.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Paris, February 17, 1903
Letters to a Young Poet

Love’s Confusing Joy

1 Feb

Being a twenty-first-century European girl, I would never have expected to relate to a thirteenth-century Persian Muslim poet and Sufi mystic. But that is exactly what happened when I picked up Rumi‘s Book of Love.

I will be posting my favourite poems from this collection as I come across them. Here’s the first…


If you want what visible reality can give,

you’re an employee.

If you want the unseen world,
you’re not living your truth.

Both wishes are foolish,
but you’ll be forgiven for forgetting
that what you really want is
love’s confusing joy.

~ Rumi