The Road Taken…

 

Finally I’ve taken myself into the 21st century! I actually wrote the draft of a poem on my mobile phone today. I’ve resisted for ages, believing pen and paper to be a far superior way of converting thought into word. Whilst I won’t be abandoning the ‘so last century’ pen and paper method, I feel a new-found freedom in abandoning the rucksack that I would normally have to take in order to carry a notebook and pen and in being able to leave home for a walk with just my phone in a jiffy bag (to protect it from the delights of our British Summer!)

This post is only partly about using the mobile phone to write notes. It’s mostly about the roads we take, perhaps on a daily basis, and how we can discover connections to our selves, our creativity and our surroundings. Taking my phone on my walk this morning was part of one of my day’s network of roads. I then had to decide between park and woods. Being August, the park is busy and full of children and families. The woods are quiet and full of shady solitude. So I tried to tune into my instincts – how did I feel today? I chose the woods.

In the woods there were more choices to make: pathways, over or round fallen trees, emerge from the woods into the field or stay under cover until the top of the hill. Whilst I walked my mind began to wander to Robert Frost’s poem ‘The Road Not Taken.’ (You can read the poem here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/resources/learning/core-poems/detail/44272)

I heard the poem read on the radio yesterday and although I’ve read it many times, on hearing it read out loud, two lines jumped out at me:

I shall be telling this with a sigh/ Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Now I started thinking about the passing of time, of my age and that sense that many of us have of ‘how did I get here?’ For me, the implicit ending to this question is, ‘…without children?’ The question is now an old friend of mine – one I used to fear but now feels more familiar and less threatening. Over the years I’ve practiced exploring this question and opening my curiosity to it. So today I wondered: how I could use what was around me to help me explore afresh?

I took my phone, sat on a fallen tree trunk and began to think about how my surroundings connected to how I was feeling today. I used my notes app to write. And it felt liberating and not at all as ‘techy’ or false as I thought it would. What emerged for me was a feeling of being in a liminal space – of observing nature in the fullness of high summer whilst at the same time the hints of autumn were present. A bit like me! (Although I’m probably more ensconced in the autumn of my life than I like to think!) Here’s a snippet from my notes:

Even in August the signs of autumn lie hidden in plain view. The too-early blackberry – I stole its out-of-season sweetness, the green conker – first to fall…

I was struck by how I felt comforted by this place and time. Yes, there is the fear of ageing, yes, there is still the sadness of not having had children but perhaps in every stage of our lives there is a chance to steal ‘an out-of-season sweetness’. And today, sitting on the tree trunk with my new-found ‘thought recording assistant’ I felt connected and whole. That connectedness and wholeness existed complete with the sadness and not despite it.

I think it is in discovering our connections that we discover our creativity. My mind had stored the reading of Robert Frost’s poem and it became connected to my mood. My mood dictated my choice of walk and my surroundings helped me to explore my feelings.

Your moment of connection does not necessarily have to be in the woods. It could be in the city, on a bus or train. What is it here and now that makes you feel connected and perhaps gives you comfort? It could be the rain on the bus window making you feel cozy. It may be the strength and grandeur of buildings. It could be the street-lights outside your window. Can you link any of these things in your surroundings to something you have read or seen recently, to a fragment of conversation you have overheard on the bus? You could use your phone to record your thoughts, using a notes app or sending yourself an email or text.

I believe that we are not just the sum total of random parts but that we can be a whole, connected being at any given moment. Stress and grief can make us lose our connections; to separate our minds from our bodies. We can use our creativity to ‘re-connect’ ourselves and to notice how we fit with our thoughts and our surroundings. Today, technology, nature and I worked together with the road taken to discover that moment of connectedness.

And when my mobile phone draft becomes a living, breathing poem, I’ll share it with you here.


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