Sunday, June 19, 2016

Not really a bucket list

Last week I finished up a writing class called "Travel Writing as Pilgrimage". Each Sunday afternoon for six weeks I drove to Seattle and took my seat at a wooden table at Hugo House, "A Place for Writers." One instructor and six writers. In-class writing was from prompts, "freewriting" for ten to fifteen minutes. The idea is that you start with the prompt and write with a pen on paper. No editing, very little conscious thought or planning. Almost stream of consciousness. I've been doing this kind of writing in small groups for years, so it was familiar.

What is written runs the spectrum from trivial to insightful to paradigm-shifting. Sometimes phrases or paragraphs can become the seed from which really good writing grows. I like freewriting because the time is relatively short and I can keep my English-major pickiness tucked away.

Our last freewrite prompt in our last class was "Before I die..."

Here's what I wrote.

Before I die I hope to have been given humility, to know that all I have been and done and said, all the good things and the awful things, have been a gift.

Before I die I hope to be as thin as I think I should be. Or else to be completely content and satisfied with being round.

Before I die I want to take the Trans Siberian Railroad from Beijing to Moscow, stopping for a few days at the summer festival in Ulan Bator. Or else I want to be absolutely fine with not going.

Before I die I want to forgive my mother, who lives beyond the grave in the continuing silence of a difficult friend.

Before I die I want to walk in silence along the Camino de Santiago in Spain. That will be next year, I'm thinking.

Before I die I want to have my fear of falling from a height removed, so that I can walk the Airport Butte Trail in Sedona rather than freezing in fear at the trailhead.


I love what I learned from this freewrite:
  • Something intangible and beyond my control is my first hope.
  • I may well be content not to do some things; who's to say my goals are the most important things?
  • Forgiving my mother for the past may result in an easier present and future.
  • Silence is no longer to be avoided.
  • Overcoming fear is not a matter of willpower, but of willingness.

13 comments:

Terra Hangen said...

You created a nice list from this prompt. I would like to walk the Camino too, and that railway journey sounds interesting. Forgiveness is good for us, I hope you succeed.

nik said...

Hello my Friend,
Love reading whatever you write. I always find something inspiring in your writing. Thank you for that.

On an entirely different level-I am thankful for our "dry heat" with the temperatures the last week. Enjoy your time in the mists and trees, the beauty here is still intact, just hot.

Good luck with your lists.
Niki

Linda Reeder said...

It seems that whenever you learn something, so do I. thanks for sharing.

DJan said...

A very interesting writing prompt. It brought up many things in me, and I wonder what my own inner self would do with it. Thank you for the gift. I'll try it. :-)

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Over the years especially while in near death moments my only thought was I hope I leave behind a legacy of compassion and forgiveness to those with whome I was able to share time.

Sandi said...

So glad your 6 week trek to Seattle proved worthwhile. Thanks for sharing your response to this particular prompt. I like the hopefulness and acceptance it brought out.

Sandi said...

So glad your 6 week trek to Seattle proved worthwhile. Thanks for sharing your response to this particular prompt. I like the hopefulness and acceptance it brought out.

Barbara said...

Nice. I like where your thoughts were headed. Good bucket list for the soul.

Tom Sightings said...

All noble aspirations, except, ya know, hoping to be as thin as you think you are.

Eileen said...

Definitely an interesting thought...I'm not certain I could answer it and certainly not with the same insight as you have demonstrated. Off the top of my head I think it would relate to the trivial, travel, retire, and win the lottery!

Thanks for sharing.

Barbara Torris said...

I was thinking yesterday about my mother. She died with age related dementia that began when she was in her early seventies. My father died suddenly and she was damaged in ways I didn't imagine a widow could be. She lived to be 88. But there was a light as it were and the memories of how I loved to sit and talk with her over a cup of coffee came to me. She moved nearer me when I was in my mid 30 and we spent so many mornings talking over that precious cup. It was wonderful.

My only regret is that it had taken me over 10 years to retrieve what was most of my life with her. I think it is sad that those memories have been hidden away for all that time.

Loved this post Linda. Thank you.

Kathy Gottberg said...

Hi Linda! What an interesting exercise. I can see how valuable they would be. They do remind me of Julia Cameron's morning pages because I've been doing those a very long time and I do get something similar out of them. I suppose that is why writing is so very important and empowering for me. Putting my thoughts on paper and following them wherever they might lead. Sure there is some crap, but there are also diamonds. Thanks for sharing this journey. ~Kathy

Debbie V. said...

Your post made me think even more than I have been lately. I see you've had happen what's happened to me where things that used to bother you don't anymore. This gives us hope that more will be added to the list.
Thank you for sharing.
Writing on cue seems tedious to me, but you certainly had some good results.