5 January 2017 – Here I Start

Today is day one of a belated start to a month dedicated to appreciating poetry. Expectedly, it starts off as a perfectly ordinary sort of day.

Not that I want to delay this any further, but before we get started, you may have some questions. If you are reading this, welcome. It’s lovely to have an unexpected guest. While I might be publishing these things to the public, it’s really just to hold myself to account. I didn’t expect anyone to actually read them, especially you. Why you especially? Why not?

You have stumbled across a blog about experiences. That’s what I intend for this to be about anyway. What form those experiences will take, I cannot say. It might be photos, stories, talking about books and movies I like, people I’ve seen, the music I listen to. I might show you what insignificant little bits of creativity I’ve managed to produce, or take you through the process – successes and setbacks all – it took to produce it. You might get recipes, book extracts, works of fiction by myself and others, links to things I like, recommendations of places to go. Perhaps you’ll get it all.

Whatever it is you get, it will be honest. I have a horrible habit for hiding behind white lies, but you won’t get that here. Otherwise, what would have been the point to all of this.

Your next question might be why are you reading this blog of experiences? Unfortunately, I can’t answer that. That lies with you and you alone.

Sorry, you might want to rephrase it to why am I writing this blog? That’s both an easier and harder question for me to answer. Eventually, I may get into this in greater detail, but for now I’ll (try to) keep it short.

See, I suffer from depression and anxiety. Like many millions of people. I am high-functioning, which means unless I talk about it, no one really knows what’s happening. But sometimes my mind goes into incredibly dark places where it sinks like Indiana Jones in quicksand. The more I struggle, the deeper it goes, and what little light I can see just gets further and further away. Right this very minute, I don’t feel too bad. This is partly because I’m currently on holiday and partly because writing calms my mind. But if I think about work, or focus on how people perceive me, or the path my life is currently on, there is a chance I’ll spiral.

The reason writing calms my mind is that it gives me something to focus on. Something positive. So if I have something new to focus on every month, it might give me stronger tools to fight that evil monster next time it rears its ugly head.

So I don’t want this blog to be about depression. I don’t want to focus on something so negative. But mentions will be made.

How does this benefit you? I don’t know. Completely selfishly, this is for my benefit. Shouting truths out across the void in the hope something in me will alight. We all seek a purpose, and this is about me seeking mine. Perhaps you may also feel a little lost. Maybe we could look for purpose together.

Getting to the poetry part, today I was in Christchurch’s #1 independent bookstore, Scorpio Books, as I am want to do, and stumbled across a very pretty copy of “The Poetry of Emily Dickinson.” It made me think of a poem I read by her years and years ago, back when I was a bleeding-hearted teenager, that has always stuck with me.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t in this particular collection, but I bought it anyway.

Unlike many of the other greats, Dickinson never intended for her work to be published. She wrote rough poems, scrawling notes everywhere that were gathered and put together by her family after her passing. There is something very raw about them that I have always appreciated, and that spoke to my inner emo child. Anyway, this is the poem in question:

After great pain, a formal feel comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions, “Was it He that bore,”
And “Yesterday, or Centuries before?”

The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
Regardess grown
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –

This is the Hour of lead
Remember, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –

(Emily Dickinson)

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