Category Archives: Writer

A good time of year to dance: Hafiz

Here is a phrase I’ve heard some lately: “If I don’t laugh, I might cry.”

Laughing is good. Or dancing!

The God Who Only Knows Four Words

by Hafiz, as translated by Daniel Ladinsky in The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master

Every
Child
Has known God.
Not the God of names,
Not the God of don'ts,
Not the God who ever does
Anything weird,
But the God who only knows four words
And keeps repeating them, saying:
"Come dance with Me."
Come
Dance.

What Should We Do About That Moon?

by Hafiz, as translated by Daniel Ladinsky in The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master

A wine bottle fell from a wagon
And broke open in a field.

That night one hundred beetles and all their cousins
Gathered

And did some serious binge drinking.

They even found some seed husks nearby
And began to play them like drums and whirl.
This made God very happy.

Then the "night candle" rose into the sky
And one drunk creature, laying down his instrument,
Said to his friend—for no apparent
Reason,

"What should we do about that moon?"

Seems to Hafiz
Most everyone has laid aside the music

Tackling such profoundly useless
Questions.
Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

Grow with the flow

A few weeks ago in her post Planned Spontaneity, Laurie Buchanan of Tuesdays with Laurie contemplated the different growing patterns of trees and pondered how that compared to how we lead our lives.

  • Are you a planner, with specific ideas of which you want to go?
  • Do you live haphazardly, bending every which way?

Like most people, she is a cross between two styles: 70% planned, 30% free spirit.

I am about 50/50, but when I was younger I led a much more planned existence. Spontaneity made me uneasy back then. In fact, friends used to make fun of my wary stick-to-routine life and pushed me to step outside my comfort zone.

And then I became a freelance writer. Talk about unpredictable.

I have developed more comfort with the “unexpected.”

Once I discovered that some of my most amazing life experiences occurred when I said, “Let’s go this way and see what happens,” spontaneity came more easily. When I allowed life to unfold naturally, it always seemed to lead me to an important and life-changing experience.

“Given the unpredictability of this crazy world, it’s good to be able to grow with the flow,” I wrote in Laurie’s comment section, and that feels true to me. Best not to cling to plans in this COVID time, am I right? It has forced even the most wary of us out of any routines we might have been sticking to.

I’m trying to grow with that flow. All of this feels important and life-changing.

Two trees twining together as they grow.
These trees are growing with the flow together.

Hasten slowly

“Hasten slowly and you will soon reach your destination.”  

—Milarepa, as found in Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance by Julia Cameron

But, how can we hasten slowly? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

And yet, it seems we do. All the good stuff comes out of hastening slowly.

  • A university degree: scribbling notes and typing assignments during caffeine-driven all-nighters . . . for four years
  • A thriving marriage: juggling careers and taking whirlwind vacations, chasing around after toddlers, paying down the mortgage . . . for decades
  • Children: pacing the floor during sleepless nights, car pooling to hockey games, gritting teeth at parent-teacher interviews, wanting everything to be perfect for them . . . for, well, forever
  • Published writing: handwriting first drafts, transcribing messy second drafts, editing, reading aloud, pacing, getting up in the middle of the night to change a word . . . for days, weeks, years

When rewards are slow coming, it is easy to get discouraged. Whether it is raising money for a good cause, learning a language, landing a recording contract, establishing the perfect garden, or mastering the “Moonlight Sonata” on piano, we must push on.

And if we stop typing, juggling, paying, pacing, gritting, planting, weeding, watering, playing, practising, reciting, conversing—if we stop hastening—then we never reach the goal.

Whatever your destination, hasten to it, and slowly you will arrive.

Writing life

Another re-post during my mini-vacation. I spent last week participating in the Humber School for Writers Summer Workshop. The writers in my group agreed: Writing is a tough slog. But then, so is life in general! I might as well spend some of it writing and occasionally stumbling into moments of bliss.


At a gathering of our local branch of the Canadian Authors Association, we writers shared words to describe the writing experience.

Words for writing and life

Terror, right above Bliss. 

Mystical right in the middle of everything.

Fun not far away.

Elusive, more than once.

Tranquility and Solace.

Hard work, Glass Wall, Escape.

Mindblowing, Universal, Wonder. 

Our word cloud described the writing experience, and life in general.

Learning through reading

I don’t know about you, but during this pandemic I have read more books electronically than ever. Without book stores or libraries, I have turned to e-books for my fix.

I prefer a paper book, but needs-must. The one thing I do like better about an e-book is the built-in dictionary. If I don’t know a word, I touch my finger and, voilà, there is the definition.

Here are some words I have learned in the past few months, used in a sentence:

glabellar: The smooth part of the forehead above and between the eyebrows. (Now that I’m older, my glabellar is not as smooth as this definition implies.)

synesthesia: A neurological condition in which information meant to stimulate one of your senses stimulates several of your senses. (Some people with synesthesia always see the letter A in the colour red, and when I see I word I don’t know in a book, I see red.)

faffing: [UK informal] To spend time doing a lot of things that are not important instead of the one thing you should be doing. (At a cottage it is easy to spend time faffing around instead of writing blog posts.)

hierophant: A person, especially a priest in ancient Greece, who interprets sacred mysteries or esoteric principles. (I need a hierophant to help me understand some things in the books I’m reading.)

tricoteuse: A woman who sits and knits, a reference to women who did this at public executions during the French Revolution. (I would be willing to become a tricoteuse during the trial of a writer who uses the word tricoteuse.)

prelapsarian: Characteristic of the time before the fall of man [Editor’s note: they mean people], that is, innocent and unspoiled. (In the prelapsarian Eden, people used non-gender specific language.)

hoaching: Full of or swarming with people. (During this time of pandemic avoid hoaching places.)

How are you reading these days? What have you learned from that experience?

Boy jumping off dock into a lake.
At a cottage it’s easy to spend time faffing around.