"One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes."
~ Chapter XXI, Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Real Pooh and friends at the History and Social Science Library,
5th Avenue and 42nd Street, New York City
“A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference.”
“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart, I’ll always be with you.”
~ Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne
On August 21, 1921, Christopher Robin Milne received Pooh for his first birthday.
As children, we played freely with sound and expression. But somewhere along the way we began editing what came naturally to us. We heard others tell their stories differently; we noticed the praise they got. Or we watched stories played out on television and concluded that they were more exciting than what we had made up on our own. Gradually, subtly, we began to hold things in, instead of turning them loose into the world. And our precious energy went the way of the kingdoms, and the angels. The trolls stayed on; they just changed form — appearing as anger, sadness, guilt, frustration, fear. These trolls went into our bodies to hide; and all the criticisms we heard and believed about ourselves marched in right behind them.
We want to become as free to create as we were in childhood. We know that what we have to tell is unique, unike what anyone else would reveal. To do this, we must be willing to give voice to the dusty collection of disappointments and anxieties that crowd our inner territory.
So much of creativity is an attempt to retranslate the most closely guarded stories of our lives. The insistent archaeologist within us demands that we detect our own tension, stress, and distress and trace them back to their origins. As Marion Woodman observes, “Powerful energies are locked in our bodies.” If we do not discharge the pressures stored in our muscles and tissues, in our backs, our faces, throats, and bellies, in our arms and legs, then the energy gets stuck. When we don’t release these tensions, we often end up in a breathless effort to talk them out or write them out, when it would have been easier to stretch, sigh, shout, pound, punch, or dance them out in the beginning.
~ John Lee, Writing from the Body (St. Martin’s Press, 1994)
A good poem always has some entrance into and reminder of the fact that genuine experience is unexpected. A good poem shocks us awake, one way or another — through its beauty, its insight, its music; it shakes or seduces the reader out of the common gaze and into a genuine looking. It breaks the sleepwalking habit in our eyes, in our ears, in our mouths, and sets us adrift in a small raft under a vast night-sky of stars. We feel ourselves moving, too, above a vast, cold-streaming current carrying inner-lit sea creatures, tangles of kelp strands, fishes. Thus we learn the deep clefts of the mid-ocean land-rifts; thus the wave-blanketed mountains rise up before us as islands, a new habitation for heart and mind . . . We depart the known ease in order to arrive somewhere other than where we were. We travel by poem, as by any other means, in order to see for ourselves more than was seen.
~ Jane Hirshfield, “The Shock of Good Poetry,”
The Writer, June 1999.