Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Looking, Hearing, Feeling, is Disturbing.

Originally uploaded by premasagar.

Jeanette Winterson is a poet living in England. “As a Northern working class girl she was not encouraged to be clever,” or so says her website ( http://www.jeanettewinterson.com/poem.asp ). It’s here I found the poem The Galloping Cat. Today, in reading her column I found these words I really wanted to share.

Winterson writes:
“I used to think sunshine was a bit frivolous – now I know it is life.

Changing is good, letting in new sensations, feelings, new ideas, is necessary. I don’t want to slowly calcify, find myself like the inside of a dishwasher pipe – just enough room to let just enough water through. I want to keep the spaces open, and to find a way to make room for difficult beauty – is beauty ever easy? I have not found it so. I’m not even talking about a person, just openness to everything, and even the small daily things, like going out into the garden, or walking down to the river, are beautiful enough to disturb.

Disturb? Yes, I mean to disturb out of the habit of letting life pass in a blur. Looking, hearing, feeling, is disturbing. But better, I think than a muffled world.

I put up a poem this month that seems to me to be about the essential practicality of the poetic vision. You don’t need to be a poet to have a poetic vision. A poetic vision is prepared to be open, to let things in. The exactness of translation, vision into language, is the job of a poet, but the vision itself is probably the job of all of us.

We are grateful to poets because they put into words what we have felt/are feeling. I can’t say enough how important it is to go on feeling.

This month’s poem makes the poet and his poem a thing of practical application. I have never believed that poetry is disconnected from the real world, or is a pretty adjunct to it.

I believe that poetry is a user’s manual – a way of defining what things matter, and, as Coleridge put it, ‘keeping the heart alive to love and beauty.’

Poetry is there when we need it, and we need it regularly. Simply, it turns ordinary life into a meditation, and it reminds us that meditation – the ability to settle and focus and concentrate our energies, is a necessary part of ordinary life.”

If you click on the picture you will be able to read another poem, written by the homeless man whose hands are in the photo.

Looking, hearing, feeling are indeed disturbing.
Please make them part of your spiritual practice.

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