The other night in my Companions class, we were asked to write a haiku about how grudges, desires and anxieties affect our spiritual growth. While I love to words, writing under pressure for public consumption gives my stomach a flurry of Mothra sized butterflies. Neurotic about just about anything I write, I have a whole set of anxieties reserved especially for poetry. Even haikus, which always seem to turn up as fun stabs at poetry for the unpoetic (which is unfair, because it's just as difficult to write a good haiku as any other form of poetry), make me anxious. Chalk it up to my super-sized need for approval.
So, when pressed to write, all I could come up with was:
Thinking up haikus
Fills me with anxiety
I do not love them
Once that concept had infiltrated my head, that was it. No more room at the inn. By the end of our short writing time, my mind was filled with haiku inspired resistance and my paper blank. So I was forced to scrawl my My Grudge Against Haikus haiku down on it, put it in the basket from which we were all going to select each others work to read aloud, and sit there looking squirrely until mine was up. It got a laugh, which appeased the approval need, but left me feeling a bit like a cheater in terms of authenticity.
When I got home I started thinking. My experience with the poem is actually emblematic of the blindness that seizes us any time we become too focused on any fear, idea, want or expectation. Fear of becoming the author of the crappiest haiku (note to self: title of the stirring, triumphant memoir I will write in my golden years - The Crappiest Haiku: The Martina of Powellhurst Story) left me unable to treat the question as much more than a joke. Jokes are safe. If people laugh, it's okay. They were supposed to.
It's a lot easier to go for the laugh, focus on our fears than it is to own up to the negative parts of our belief systems. Sometimes we focus so much on what we feel, believe, want etc. that we don't see all of the possibilities that are out there. So, my self-assigned homework for the week is to be more aware of the times when I succumb to tunnel vision and to make an authentic attempt at trying something I'm not good at. Maybe I will surprise myself. Either way, it will be more memoir fodder.