So Little is a Stone
On Revision and Resolutions
Revision. Resolution. They sound like completely different concepts, but really, they are much the same. Revision is to see again. To look with new eyes. Resolution, in the new year’s sense, is starting over with purpose. With strength. Looking at the same old life and seeing in it something new.
The only resolution I am making this year is to try. Try to take care of my health and my body. Try to do something creative every day. Try to spend more time with the people I care about. Try to read more. Try. It may be the first year I ever keep my resolution, as I am not setting any definable, achievable goals. (Yes, I hear all that old teacher PD about SMART goals screaming in my head, but I have told it to shut up.)
So I ended the old year and started the new one with a little experiment. I made a painting and documented each step/layer with a photo. I waited two days and set out to recreate the painting through the same steps as documented on my phone. As I went I made small changes, but tried to stick to the same steps. I was aiming to imitate, but ended up revising. The paintings are similar, but different.
A good lesson. Even if I want to, I cannot reproduce former successes anymore than I can relive the past. I can only make the moves I make and see if I’m happy with the results. In Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Burning the Old Year,” she says, “so much of any year is flammable […] so little is a stone.” It is with these words that I move forward, knowing that so little of any of my days are stone. To treat my life, particularly my creative life, as flammable. Not to worry about perfection or traditional measures of success, but to enjoy the process, to realize nothing is permanent.
Steps I Am Taking to Meet my Goal of Trying:
Participating in the #startwithamark challenge led by shemidixon and consie_atopserenityhill on Instagram. (It gives a list of mini-prompts to make a small sketch each of the first 21 days of January.)
Beginning a new writing project and taking it slowly -I’m enjoying experimenting with new ideas and not worrying about where it’s going or if the poems will be published.
Working on my to-be-read pile one day a time. Currently reading Savage Beauty, a biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay, one of my touchstone poets.
Taking two poetry classes to learn from poets I admire -one with Cynthia Arrieu-King at the Winter Poetry and Prose Getaway and one online with Joan Kwon Glass through the Writer’s Center.
What will you revise? What do you resolve? I’d love to hear from you.
A prompt for you to begin the year:
Read the Naomi Shihab Nye poem linked above. What in your life is stone —what are the things that, no matter where you are or what your circumstance, are solid and unchangeable for you? This list could include people, personality or physical traits, spiritual beliefs, feelings, even objects of importance. Use this list to write a thank you to the years you have burned.
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