Now that my redesigned website https://mariemaccagno.com is fully launched I am returning to my creative intention for the year: writing with the theme of “My Year with Mary Oliver”. I started this year with creative writing intentions that became somewhat sidelined by more down-to-earth business projects. For a while I had to focus on rewriting website text, updating all my descriptions to match what I’m offering now, and choosing images that reflect who I am today. It’s been exciting and rewarding, and I’m also excited to take up my notebook and pen to play with fresh writing inspired by observing my surroundings.
As I write this post I’m sitting on the deck of a small cabin, overlooking the Strait of Georgia. The water is calm this morning, a big change from yesterday’s strong winds and whitecaps pounding the shore. We’re on a short getaway to a nearby Gulf Island, and it hasn’t taken long for stress and tension to melt away. The ocean view is my natural screen today, bird songs fill the air and I feel at peace. It’s a perfect way to hit the reset button.
There will always be circumstances that take us away from our creative projects and artistic endeavours. I’ve learned that the important thing is to find my way back, to not lose sight of my goal. In my case, I’m inspired by nature and Mary Oliver, who was a close observer of the world around her. I recently listened to a podcast where one of the speakers described Mary Oliver’s poetry as “opening a portal to the spiritual realm.” Imagine that! Words as a portal, taking the reader beyond a specific, anchored-in-the-senses experience, and transporting to a universal knowing.
At the start of 2022, I set out to write one essay a month, responding to a Mary Oliver poem. As I read through my earlier writing journals, I noticed that I have been using her poetry as prompts for a long time. My long-time writing buddy suggested I create a draft document of what she calls, “snippets” of my nature-inspired writing, that may or may not include my responses to Mary Oliver poems. I took up her idea, and before I initiated the new website project, I was combing through my journals of handwritten fresh writing, typing up the most compelling pieces into a single digital draft document. I’m excited to return. It’s fun to be in the mystery of it all and to let my curiosity guide me.
I would like to share some of my draft writing, along with my process. This is a snippet I wrote in September 2021, using a line from Mary Oliver’s poem, I am Of the Trees. The phrase I chose from the poem is: “Hope of myself in which I walk slowly and bow often…”
I become my walk-slowly-self when I’m on meditation retreats, more like an un-self that no longer sees the trees as separate, but rather I am of the trees, and they are of me. … I wonder about logging, if trees sense their neighbors falling and somehow communicate loss and grief. How can I continue to walk slowly and bow often when my favorite forest places are being clear-cut? Underneath these questions is deep emotion, challenging for me to express. … As do the trees, I will stay present and witness to the best of my ability.