Looks like July has become the month of haiku-writing for me. I’m really enjoying this, and it really makes me smile to be able to look back on the haikus and the little memories they contain. I’ve tried the 100 Happy Days Challenge before, and I’ve kept daily gratitude journals before, but I think those things always focussed on the obvious joys (e.g. went to a concert, hung out with a friend, had dinner at this place, watched a movie, had a sleep in, etc)
And some days I had to search for little things to be happy/grateful about, but I also feel like it got repetitive after a while too.
It’s only two weeks into this daily haiku thing, so maybe it’s a bit too early to judge, but it feels like this challenge is making me look outside myself more, to seek wonder more so than happiness. I’m sure there’s a scientific paper somewhere that says wonder is an important feeling/sensation that all people should try to experience as much as possible.
But I think the other thing that sets this apart from other gratitude projects, is that instead of just taking and captioning a photo, or simply recalling every good thing that happened that day — instead of these relatively quick processes, haiku requires you to take inspiration, and then mould that to fit your finite syllables. In this process, you might have to shuffle words around, find alternative ways of describing something, and really focus on the most important aspects that you want to convey.
In short, there’s a lot involved! But it’s still pretty simple, and I maintain that anyone with a basic grasp of language can do it.
This week I’ve learnt that the haikus I’m most pleased with are the ones I write “in the moment” (as opposed to the ones I write when I’m thinking back on the day’s events, looking for something haiku-worthy). Some days I write multiple haikus (Friday holds the record with five), but I’ll just share a selection of spontaneous ones here:
Last week, I didn’t drive to work at all. I’ve driven a lot recently because of early starts, late sunrises, incessant/unpredictable rain, tiredness, laziness, etc, etc; but it’s been positively invigorating to walk through the streets and cold air in the early morning, under a pale blue sky, sun peeking through on the horizon…
Anyway, what I mean to say is that a lot of my haikus are still about the outside world. On Monday evening, on my way to the train station after work, it was raining very, very faintly. When the rain is like this at night, I like standing near streetlights and watching it come down. It reminded me of falling snow:
Raindrops like snowflakes,
Illuminated by lights
As they drift slowly.
I don’t remember much else from last Monday, but reading that haiku brings back the memory of standing under one of the lights on the station ramp, looking gleefully up at the snow-like rain. It stirs up that feeling of wonder again.
Tuesday had a similar theme of lights in the darkness:
Sometimes when I see planes in the sky, depending on what direction they’re going, I think about people I know in faraway places. Sometimes I think of them and hope they’re doing ok; sometimes I wish I could just go visit them. Sometimes I just watch the plane fly into the distance, and appreciate the miracle of flight.
Not a shooting star,
But a plane in the twilight,
On Wednesday, I cycled to work (it’s my recent effort to cycle to work once a week, and hopefully increase it from there). A colleague of mine told me about how, when he lived closer, and cycled every day, he went through a phase of being competitive, and always trying to beat his personal best. But then he realised he wasn’t enjoying it as much, so he slowed down and actually enjoyed the ride more.
As I cycled home that evening, I took his advice. I still kept a decent pace, but I didn’t worry too much about being fast. This was also helpful because I’m still trying to build up my cycling fitness, and I probably couldn’t have gone much faster anyway. A good portion of my bicycle commute follows the river, and I pass the City, South Bank, as well as a lot of bridges, so there’s plenty to see. As it turns out, focusing the mind on something else helps with fatigue.
To reduce cycling soreness.
More pleasant commute.
On Thursday, my attention was back on the skies. Whenever I see bright orange in the sky, in nature, or in fire, I think this is why orange is my favourite colour. The predawn horizon looked particularly fiery that day, so I wrote this as I got ready for work:
Colour on the horizon.
And if the sky isn’t the source of wonder and inspiration, it’s the backdrop, as it was on Friday. Happening to glance up as a walked beneath a tree, admiring its silhouette of bony branches, I saw something like yearning – a desperate yet restrained yearning.
Branches like fingers,
Bare and bent at odd angles,
Stretch toward the sky.
On Saturday, I noticed old things in new ways:
Never yet noticed
How strangely my house reflects
In a car window
…but on Sunday, not a cloud in sight, I noticed old things in old ways that never really grow old. It was about mid-morning, and I’d put the washing out in the front yard where it would get the most sun. Noticing it was such a marvellously fine day, I decided to sit and read outside too. I did read, but I stared at the sky a lot too. Considering it was a seemingly empty sheet of blue, there was still a lot to look at.
Big expanse of sky,
Infinite in size.