Haikus Calm my Mind
Structure and Form Soothe My Soul
With the World Gone Mad
OK. I lied. That IS a haiku. But this post is not just a haiku. It’s about writing. Specifically it’s about how creating haikus is helping me practice self-care in a chaotic world. As a control-freak, I thrive on structure. I’m not as bad as I used to be but, at best, I’m in semi-recovery. And the current state of the world has not been good for that semi-recovery. Every day—or more accurately—every hour something deeply upsetting is revealed, uncovered, announced, posted, tweeted, or shouted from the rooftop. Children ripped from their asylum-seeking parents. Oh wait, it’s worse. They’re being kept in pins. Kennedy is retiring. Oh wait, it’s worse. His son was involved in a billion-dollar deal with trump. Trump gave Kim-Jong Un a photo op and got nothing in return. Oh wait, it’s worse. North Korea is expanding its nuclear capabilities. If I listen very carefully I can almost hear Heather Locklear telling me: “and so on and so on and so on ….” (Oops, showing my age. What ever happened to Faberge shampoo? Is it still a thing? Note to self—google it.)
[Side note for your pleasure: Still don’t know if Faberge still exists, but this gem is still out there! And so on and so on …
Where was I?
So in the midst of this non-stop horror train that we’re on, I am trying to find equilibrium. I’m setting mind boundaries. I’m staying informed but I’m not immersing myself in the 24/7 cycle. I’m reading a variety of sources, but I’m no longer trying to keep up on the Fox “News” or Infowars-style version of events. Their distance from reality and constant reverence to Trump, as if he is some sort of god-figure, is too surreal for my brain to process. I will engage with people seeking to have an informed discussion but I no longer engage with people that just want to argue or want to insist that “being civil” means that we should ignore the blatant racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, and classism that underlies much of this administration’s actions. I have chosen to protect (control!) my space for the sake of my sanity.
Because sometimes, on bad days, I’m afraid that we have gone through the looking glass. The Mad Hatter has taken control. Too many people have drank the tea. On good days, when I’m feeling optimistic I want to believe that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” (As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so eloquently noted when he paraphrased a sermon by the radical abolitionist, Theodore Parker.) But I’m also an historian (and I can do basic math!) so I know that arc has been bending for a damn long time! Too long. It’s been 165 years since Parker’s 1853 speech and over 5o years since Dr. King’s 1965 Selma speech and justice still seems far in the distance. And if we continue to ignore the very real social, judicial, and economic effects of that delay in justice, it will continue to be only a fuzzy idea, always out of reach.
I’m going to get back to haikus and writing. I promise, but as long as I’m quoting Theodore Parker, I’ll throw another one into the mix. “The domestic function of the woman does not exhaust her powers… To make one half of the human race consume its energies in the functions of housekeeper, wife and mother is a monstrous waste of the most precious material God ever made.” And another one: “But I confess I mourn that where her work is as profitable as man’s, her pay is not half so much. …. It is so in all departments of woman’s work that I am acquainted with.” Once more I remind us, this was 165 years ago! These are not new ideas people!! And again I say, if we continue to ignore the very real socio-economic effects of the mindset that prioritizes women’s roles as wife & mother to the exclusion or marginalization of all others, then true equality will continue to be only a fuzzy idea, always out of reach.
So … I’ll hop off my soapbox for now.
And come back to the supposed subject of this post. Haikus. The deceptively simple haiku. To comply to its rules while still saying something has become a process that calms me. If feeds my need for control and it forces me to think big and small at the same time. I must be concise. I must convey meaning. Bringing those two things together has become the perfect writing challenge to balance my shaky equilibrium in this time of twitter wars and infowars and real wars. So thanks to Matsuo Basho and Ezra Pound. Perhaps I should apologize for diminishing the art form with silliness and politics, BUT …without apology, this is a haiku.
Haiku as Self Care
Might Sink Art for Ego’s Sake
But I Plead the Fifth
What calms your soul??