That Little Beast
Anti-Anxiety Tool of the Week: Reel it back in.
I don't know about you but I seem to have the ability to imagine, very vividly, any number of possible future scenarios. That serves me very well as a fiction writer and I am grateful for it, but when it comes to worry and obsession about what might happen tomorrow or next week or next year, it tends to function much more as a curse.
When I finally realize what I am doing, I can reel my imagination back in, like a fly fisher--around and around and around and around--until my awareness is back in the present, back in my body, back in a calmer space. Next time you cast your thoughts too far into the future (or the past), you might remind yourself: "Reel it in, my friend, just reel it back in."
This tool is from the fourth Toolkit. Here's the Index of all toolkits. And The Mini-Toolkit: For Those with Little or No Time.
That Little Beast
Words are strange creatures. Like birds they can fly, but when you try to catch them, they slither around like fish and are often gone in a flash. If you do catch them, they're likely to flop and wiggle across the page, sometimes dropping down into the ocean altogether.
Here are a few slithery, silvery collections of words, often referred to as poems. By Mary Oliver, David Whyte and a novice poet.
That Little Beast
That pretty little beast, a poem, has a mind of its own. Sometimes I want it to crave apples but it wants red meat. Sometimes I want to walk peacefully on the shore and it wants to take off all its clothes and dive in. Sometimes I want to use small words and make them important and it starts shouting the dictionary, the opportunities. Sometimes I want to sum up and give thanks, putting things in order and it starts dancing around the room on its four furry legs, laughing and calling me outrageous. But sometimes, when I'm thinking about you, and no doubt smiling, it sits down quietly, one paw under its chin, and just listens.
by Mary Oliver
Song for the Salmon
For too many days now I have not written of the sea, nor the rivers, nor the shifting currents we find between the islands
For too many nights now I have not imagined the salmon threading the dark streams of reflected stars,
nor have I dreamt of his longing nor the lithe swing of his tail toward dawn.
I have not given myself to the depth to which he goes, to the cargoes of crystal water, cold with salt, nor the enormous plains of ocean swaying beneath the moon.
I have not felt the lifted arms of the ocean opening its white hands on the seashore, nor the salted wind, whole and healthy filling the chest with living air.
I have not heard those waves
fallen out of heaven onto earth, nor the tumult of sound and the satisfaction of a thousand miles of ocean giving up its strength on the sand.
But now I have spoken of that great sea, the ocean of longing shifts through me, the blessed inner star of navigation moves in the dark sky above and I am ready like the young salmon to leave his river, blessed with hunger for a great journey on the drawing tide.
by David Whyte
what is the difference
between betting the stone wheel
and playing in the yard?
Between the fast blue four-lane
not far beyond,
and where he sits,
enthroned in a threadbare suit,
with creasing under the knee?
He is a raw image,
waiting to see
if we will come home.
This, in the middle key, unanswered.
This, in a floating light while we say goodbye.
“This," he says, "is a mystery of the sky far above—
home to me, my love and a true suit of clothes.”
He doesn’t know how to ask
yet he is able to give.
And the white man
knows nothing of his trials.
A simple song,
he sings to an empty room.
But his music slants on
down the street like a raft,
meeting his young, doe-like and wilder neighbors
He slides noiselessly into the night
under a bounty,
And the white man does not know this
by D. E. Hunt
It is difficult to get the news from poems,
yet men die miserably every day
for lack of what is found there.
William Carlos Williams
Until next time,
Fly fisher, unknown
Ocean, Cam Bradford, unSplash
Bridge, Gaetan Detournay