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Searching and Waiting

In college I read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. What impressed me most was this quote:

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

I read it and reread it and thought to myself, this is the worst kind of danger, one I’m deep in right now. I considered studying biology to become a geneticist, and psychology like my father had done, and also music. But of all the options, I decided on English with a creative writing focus. And occasionally I wondered if I’d made the wrong choice, but then I’d bat that thought away. I chose it, and due to that alone, it was right (at least in this case). As I’d hear and read about opportunities for clubs and study abroad and seminars and meetings and concerts and volunteering I’d fancifully think of and then choose none of them. Part of this was picturing barriers that may not have been as large as I thought, but a lot of it was simple indecision.

The further I got in school, the more I realized I needed to just pick and try things. And I did. I auditioned for and joined a women’s choir (the first choir outside of church I’d ever sung in), took two dance classes, and did a service-learning internship at the Boys and Girls Club, where I figured out how to teach piano to kids who struggled to pay attention and didn’t have an instrument to practice on at home.

When I was in my senior year and afraid of not knowing what I wanted to do when I graduated, I met with a career counselor several times, who looked at options with me and one day offhandedly remarked that if I ever wanted to be crazy I could try Teach for America or the Peace Corps. I laughed, thinking in no way was I cut out for something like that, then a few months later decided to move to China to teach English. Ha.

Choosing can be difficult and searching and researching options for your next venture in life can leave you unsure, confused, overwhelmed, anxious, or even paralyzed. But taking a step forward helps determine the way much better than hiding your head between your knees. Every choice I’ve made and loved started out with discovery. Once I’d made the choice, I was in, and at some point it was like I was moving along to my own soundtrack. You know, like the way you might feel if one day you were told your life was one big crazy musical.

“Wait, have those violins been playing in the background all along?” you’d ask.

Yep, you just didn’t see them hiding in those bushes,” would come the reply.

And the trumpets??” 

They’ve been following you around since you were born you know.”

“Oh, wow!”

So if you haven’t found your song yet, this poem is for you:

Searching for my song
by Aubri Wilson

I'm searching for my song

Still straining to hear

Waiting for the one I feel

Undeniably in my veins and bones

The song of right now

Which touches my senses

Nearly like déjà vu

And yet melodies seemingly familiar

May almost, but not quite do the trick

I’m searching for my song

Wondering if I missed it

While not being open to listen

Hearing words but assigning

To them the wrong notes

Maybe I can try again

If I close my eyes and reflect

Maybe it’s true that a few sweet notes

In duples or triples at a time

Or even one by one

Dilatorily crawling along

Can tell me if it’s my song

That I’ll love

With a beautiful line

Note by note by note

All the way through

If there’s silence

Maybe there are just

A few more measures of rest

To wait through

So if I’m searching for my song still

I believe I’ll find my song soon

Senses and Illusions

I’ve wondered sometimes what it’d be like to be blind. What if I suddenly had an accident or contracted an illness that ruined my sight? Would the world be a less certain place? How would my other senses adjust? How could I continue with normal activities like reading and writing? Or, what would it be like to be deaf? How could I continue with playing and singing music? What if, due to some sensory illness or disorder, I lived without most of my sense of touch? Or even taste?

What I wonder most is how I’d connect with people and with the world differently, and how other senses might heighten to compensate. And then, even though we rely on our sensory perception so much, we are sometimes fooled. Check out some mind-boggling sensory illusions here. You might be surprised about some of these!

A little over a month ago, I penned a poem as I thought about how all this would be like, and what would happen if I could rely a little more on those things you only feel inside.

 

In a filled room,

Blind with no one speaking,

I’d know you by the sound of your breathing.




I’d know you by the rate of your heartbeat

If I touched your chest.

I’d know you by the feel of the air around you

If you stood near.




I’d know, I’d know you, yes.

I’d know you without needing

To hear your voice, or see you,

Or after all, even without needing to touch you.




I’d know you because 

Of times before when 

You held my hand 

And my pain and panic

Dissipated into the night

With my heartbeats 

Matching yours




And now, do you believe?

My heart is independent

It seems, but speaks and tells

Me when yours is near




After so long, I think

I’ve finally learned

How to listen to it

When all along

It’s been trying to tell me

Things, important things

That I should know


Sand Lily

Three weeks ago in this post, I shared a music video from the documentary Many Beautiful Things about the little known artist, writer, adventurer and missionary Lilias Trotter. Earlier this week I watched the film because the music from a favorite artist of mine drew me in and I curiously looked up the trailer.

Several of the quotes from Lilias in the film made me feel overcome with admiration. This was a woman who voluntarily gave up an opportunity for recognition and acclaim in order to travel far away to a desert, a country where she was unable to communicate in the local tongue and unfamiliar with the customs. She gave up a life of relative ease to live in harsher conditions, and spent years of her life serving women and children who had desperate needs.

I was particularly impressed by her thoughts on the sand lily. Her biographer shares the quote and expounds on it in a thoughtful and worthwhile post here.

Instead of commenting beyond what Miriam has done, I will simply share a poem of my own that Lilias’ thoughts inspired.

 

Sand Lily


If I’m my worst enemy

I err on the side of caution

Holding back only to avoid

Tripping over myself

And taking a tumble

Ignoring the fact

That I can be careful

But move forward still

And if I fall and land

Where I did not want to

I can stand up again

And sometimes after all

The landing is softer

Than expected

Or can be the place

I need to be in

To see from a new angle

And truly I forget

But want, no need

To believe that

I am a sand lily

As no harshness or lack

Around me will induce

A threat to my bloom

For when I search

From within

I have all that I need

 

Goodbye to PB & J

On Wednesday I may have eaten a peanut butter sandwich for the last time. I’m tempted to write an ode to that delightful food of my childhood up through my twenties. Before I gave away the peanut butter in my fridge along with other foods I needed to retire, I almost thought to hold a little funeral, maybe with a pyre. But no, the picture is of a gorgeous sunset a few weeks ago I saw while walking, not a fire I started in my neighborhood.

Here lies the convenient and delicious and healthy (or so I thought for me) lunch of choice on busy days….

Anyway, I had food allergy testing done and was quite surprised about some of the foods that came back as positive and high enough to consider avoiding entirely. Peanuts was at the top, and I had 19 others on the list. You may just see more about that here later, but maybe it’s a bit too fresh and honestly overwhelming to share yet. I can say that what I will be eating on a daily basis will be quite different than before. I did expect to have some allergies (doesn’t everyone lately have some?) but I was not prepared for several of the foods on the list or for the number that gave cause for change.

Yet the goal is to have better health and feel better generally so I’m looking forward to seeing what happens through avoiding these foods and finding new ones to enjoy instead. Really I always wanted an excuse to try new foods and create my own strange recipes….but gosh, socially this may be a bit of a challenge. A friend jokingly said when I listed just a few of the allergies, “Um…can you eat anything besides air?!”

While I think withdrawals and cravings and the psychological part of missing what I used to eat will be the hardest, this could be a pretty fun challenge and adventure that will take some creativity. And you know what? I love things that encourage or even require creativity.

After initial elimination of all of the foods on the list, I may experiment adding back in some of them a tiny bit one at a time to check the reaction and whether it’s acceptable for me or not. I definitely haven’t had the level of severity to trigger deep concern, but passing itchiness of skin, eyes and ears, occasional abdominal pain, and feeling a little more weak than seems normal may be due to these foods. It will be fascinating to see how different I feel in a few weeks.

Just like I may have had some of these allergies for a long time but was unaware, I’ve been creative for a long time but just recently have tried to share this with a broader sphere, so be on the lookout for some food poems perhaps!

One last note. I’m not sure exactly why, but I secretly love break up songs. I’ve shared from this duo before because they’re one of my favorites. This song taken in new context of say, the guy being peanuts, and the singer being me is quite funny. Wow, this song takes a different turn in that light! If my craving for peanuts comes knocking, I’ll just remember what Carissa sings here and know I’m too good for that. And maybe I’d just tweak the words a little…”It’s just so hard to say goodbye when you’re so delicious” maybe. Ha. My silly sense of humor. I just had to have the goodbye here before I go on to the hello.

 

 

 

Old Souls

Have you ever been told you were an “old soul”? I actually don’t recall exact instances, but I have been several times. A few weeks ago I was listening to woman a number of years younger than I struggle to come up with fun facts about herself in a get to know you game. She seemed to think she was boring because she loved to do things like read and knit, which are kind of rare for someone in their 20s. She made some comment like, “I’m weird”, and seemed slightly apologetic. She reminded me of myself really only a few years ago. For much of my life, I had a fear that I was boring. I smiled at her and said it sounded like she was an old soul. I meant it as a compliment.

That probably led me to thinking about myself as an “old soul” recently. Last week I took a Playbuzz quiz to determine the age of my soul. It told me mine was 55. Really? I was hoping for at least 65. I was slightly disappointed. But today I took another one that categorized me as an “Ancient Soul”, even older than just an “old soul”! These are fun and the term “old soul” is a social one, not having any basis in psychology.

But what I’ve heard and read is nearly all relatable to me from not fitting in with peers or following a crowd, preferring the company of people older than myself, being seen as mature (especially for my age when I was younger), loving to learn about history, enjoying spending time by myself, being introspective, having a spiritual focus, not being so interested in the latest trends or fads etc. I’d rather have fewer deep connections than many more shallow ones. I’d rather be alone to have quality time with me than to go out on a weekend just to go out. I don’t need to get a new phone every year. I love classical music and appreciate classic literature.

I don’t believe in reincarnation, as some do and think that “old souls” are those who have simply learned from many past lives. However, I was fascinated to see that the term may have come from China (I’m a sinophile since 2012). Or at least this article points to Chinese Taoism as the origin of the idea.

As an “old soul” I wouldn’t change how I am. I can’t imagine being me and not being thought of or thinking of myself as one. Do you feel like an old soul? How do you feel about it? Maybe some of the challenges mentioned in this article will be relatable. Many of them are for me (not all or all perfectly, but close).

Do you know any “old souls”? Do you think it’s true that artists tend to be in that category? Writers? Poets?

Or do you really believe in “old souls”? And if you do, do you believe them when they speak? There is something about recording memories and ideas in the written word, especially in poetry, that brings out a way of looking at the world differently. And perhaps I often feel most like an “old soul” in the moment of creating a poem.

Of Emotion and Music Without Words

Below is a poem I penned on the twelfth day of March this year:

I try to show my emotion

But it gets twisted and broken

When it comes out

Like my whisper became a shout

It morphs and it moves

I didn’t mean it to be so used

You may be confused

If you would offer it back to me

The elusive string I faintly see

This time I’ll wrap it up strong

To give in a way that won’t be wrong

 

Have you ever felt this way? Like you couldn’t express your emotions quite right, or in a way that would be understood? That you couldn’t find the right words to use? That you had trouble connecting with others?

When I was a kid, long before Disney’s Frozen came out, I watched The Snow Queen, the original English dub of the Russian animated version of 1957. This was based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale published in 1844. I was charmed by the storyteller’s twirling umbrella, and Kai and Gerda’s friendship and their declaration to always be friends and love each other and be happy together forever. I’d forgotten until recently that Gerda asked Kai in this version to be his girlfriend.

And maybe watching things like this gave me ideas because when I reviewed one of my earliest journals a year ago, I was reminded by my six year old self that I met my first boyfriend in the first grade. Said boyfriend probably never knew it and so wouldn’t be bothered when I decided a few days later that we weren’t dating anymore because he was “gross”. I don’t think I’d have ever admitted to him that I felt differently before I saw him pick his nose and make a snack of it.

Back to the Snow Queen. When Kai gets the enchanted glass stuck in his eye and is rude to Gerda I might not have cried with her, but gosh, I felt something prickly in my stomach. I remember being confused when in captivity the Snow Queen tells him that “flowers, beauty, joy, and love are all illusions” and he must forget them, as she’s retold him many times before. Who could feel that way? Or rather, not feel? I love that this story ends with the girl coming to the guy’s rescue. This animated version doesn’t show it, but in the tale, she kisses him and in any version, I think, it’s clear that her love is what breaks the spell.

I wanted to be strong and brave like Gerda, but sometimes I felt more like the Snow Queen! The other day I was listening to Freya Riding’s “You Mean the World to Me”, which professes she’s not an “ice queen” even though she does not let show how she feels and she could be “pretty mean”. Ouch.

 

 

Growing up, I felt like an old soul (perhaps more on this specific topic soon) and somewhat disconnected from my peers and the things they talked and cared about. I preferred classical music without words, that could convey so much emotion I couldn’t express through speaking. I loved old movies and old books and sometimes I preferred the company of adults to kids my own age. I’d sit and listen to their stories and learn. I liked reading about simpler times and looking at old photographs. And sometimes I just felt at a loss when it came to joining in conversations in school, because I couldn’t always relate. I so wanted to connect but felt misunderstood. I was sure people thought I was aloof and standoffish and once heard someone say I was intimidating.

Music without words, specifically classical music, has always been on an entirely different sphere for me. Take a look at how it transcends time here.

While things have become much easier in adulthood, life is also more complex! Sometimes I wish an appropriate response would be, “Here, listen to this classical piece. That’s how I feel.” And no, don’t worry, it’ll only take around 15-30 minutes. But, to save you some, times here’s a very short little piece that I can honestly say is good example of how it feels when I write-the wonder, the discovery, the joy in creating. Can you feel it too?

 

 

Saudade

It’s hard to describe what the last month has been like for me. Have you ever learned a second language, or third or fourth perhaps (Yes, I am jealous of the polyglots out there) and learned a word that cannot be translated into your mother tongue? But you kind of wish that word existed in your first language because you’d like to use it as the meaning is so deep and powerful, or would just be convenient and effective to get your point across? Well, although I don’t have a full understanding of the word, the Portuguese term “saudade” comes to mind. Please see this valiant attempt at defining “saudade” here. Perhaps I feel a bit of the longing for April, and although it’s been only a few days past, I’m already missing National Poetry Month.

This was the second year I celebrated by writing a poem each day, following the challenge found here on this blog that blooms with poetry form instructions during April. Here’s a look back on how I celebrated this year in a more expansive way than before and how that felt. It’s a feeling of saudade or something akin to it perhaps, as I write this. Thankfully, there will be another National Poetry Month next year!

  1. I wrote a poem each day with a different form. Some I’d tried before in the past few years of poetry challenges or in school, but some were new. Outside of poetry month, I almost always stick to writing free verse. But just like when I had to write essays in school, I felt a bit of excitement at seeing where my creativity would go when guidelines were in place. Sometimes working within a framework enhances, rather than limits, your potential. Some days I wrote an extra poem or two just for fun.
  2. I felt things! Much of my poetry was about my personal experiences during the month or things I’ve observed or about certain people in my life. And these were all over the map. They variously made me feel nostalgic, excited, mischievous, vulnerable, powerful, surprised, amused, reflective, mysterious, grateful, creative, giddy, hopeful, fun, expressive, and more self-aware. Always more self-aware and more connected. I just smiled and smiled for a while after writing some of the poems, or even laughed. And with one in particular, I cried while writing it and afterward while reading and rereading it about ten times.
  3. I shared my poetry and my love of it and made connections! How did I do this?
    1. I shared each poem I wrote for the challenge in a private Facebook group set up for participants of the poetry challenge I’ve mentioned earlier. What a great way to get some positive feedback and see others’ work! I also shared a few of these poems on my Facebook author page.
    2. I printed copies of a few poems I’d written in the past and handed them out to a handful of people on the 18th for Poem in Your Pocket Day.
    3. I shared two of my original poems on a podcast. Read about that experience and find the link to the episode here.
    4. I hosted a private poetry night. With a delightful and intimate group of intelligent and art-appreciating people, we shared poems we enjoyed, and in some cases, poems we’d written ourselves. I recorded myself reading one of mine to the group, but felt a bit awkward in the moment and will rerecord later when I can read with more of the feeling behind it! I did not make it to an open mic as I’d wanted, but this was a good replacement.
    5. I did a sidewalk chalk poem! On the penultimate day of poetry month, I wrote out a poem at the MCC Rose Garden in the Veteran’s section of the garden. As this was perhaps the most impactful experience of the month, I will discuss it further.

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I wanted an Emily Dickinson poem (as I am related to her) and while I flipped through a tome of her entire retained poems, my incredibly supportive boyfriend found one with a rose in the title faster than I could. I somewhat randomly chose an area on the sidewalk and wrote out the poem as my boyfriend read it to me. (Note: If you do a sidewalk chalk poem in future, make sure to bring a kneeling mat or wear a knee pad or even just bring a towel. It’s not very comfortable to kneel down on a sidewalk with zero protection like I did. And do check your poem after finishing. I admittedly forgot to capitalize a few words that Dickinson did stylistically. DO get a chalk holder like I did to avoid getting dust all over your hands)

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After I’d chosen the spot, my boyfriend noted that it was in the Veteran’s section, which I did not realize. A bit later he mentioned how appropriate the poem was for the place and time. You see, it was exactly one year after his dad, who was a veteran who had served in the navy, passed away. It was also less than a month away from the 12th anniversary of my grandfather’s death. He served in World War II. As I stood and read the poem I’d written, the significance of it all hit me. Nobody can know a rose once it’s gone. And on the ultimate day of poetry month, I penned the following shadorama poem as I reflected on the experience:

Oh roses
With varied faces
Do you hear
And witness
Every gentle visitor
Seeking grace and rest

A woman who’d been watching curiously approached and praised my handwriting and the idea. That was a good feeling. My hope was that at least a handful of people would unexpectedly find the poem and find in it some bit of meaning. The next evening, I found myself driving again to the garden, just to see if my poem was still there. It was indeed, and I caught someone reading it! I’m not sure how long it will stay, or if it is gone already, but at least perhaps a few souls found a bit of pleasure in it, even if it was more like saudade.

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I learned about the word “saudade” from the music video below, which to me demonstrates the powerful ability of art to convey emotion and tell a story in a unique way. There is a making of video you can search for as well, that makes this story even more potent. For example, from context in the making of video, I gathered that the box of things that the actress is staring at in the beginning and end of the video seems to represent the last items that the father of the girl who inspired the video used on his final trip on earth. Enjoy!

Warning: This may be a tearjerker for some viewers. But I love the message found here! While remembering things gone, you recall the wonderful parts that make you miss that someone or something, and find joy in that remembering.

Singled Out in a Podcast

So, this past week I did something new. I did something that scared me (kind of)! I’m thinking back to my very early post Fear and Creativity. This made me a little nervous, but I was part of a podcast, an amazingly funny and insightful podcast by two incredible gals, Alyssa and Emma. Listen to their podcast Singled Out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or any other major podcast platform! If you want to laugh more in your life and hear astute bits of juicy knowledge on singlehood and dating, follow them on Instagram @wearesingledout, like The Singled Out Podcast on Facebook and be a part of the community by joining the Singled Out Facebook group!

Please check out the episode I was in and have the chance to hear me read two of my original poems (plus the text of Billy Joel’s “And So it Goes”) in honor of National Poetry Month. Among other fun questions, Emma and Alyssa dissected my poems with me. My favorite part of poetry may not always even be expressing myself and getting out thoughts in a way that can’t be done anywhere else. It may be making a connection with the reader.

We took a bit of time to discuss vulnerability in dating and in poetry on the podcast, and as I thought a bit about that, I created this incredibly amazing quote (haha) that maybe someday someone will spend time interpreting and dissecting in it’s simple complexity.

“Life isn’t a cupcake with sprinkles, decorated and displayed just right. It’s a tough steak that bleeds as it cooks, and is often eaten before it is well done.”-Aubri Wilson

The first poem I read I already shared here in a previous post: What if….?

Here is the text of the second poem I read on the podcast (check the podcast for background behind it and to hear me read it!):

 

You Tell Me


You tell me that I’m beautiful

It means nothing to me

Because of every stranger who said it

And wanted something for nothing

And still I don’t know you

Really, you’re nearly as much

A stranger as them


And I can’t admit as you stare

The only one I ever wanted to

Hear it from never said it once


You tell me that I’m beautiful

And if you were smarter

You’d wait to tell me

If you knew me better

You’d be patient and say it again

And again every day

Until I believed you meant it


You tell me that I’m beautiful

It means nothing to me

Because of what hasn’t happened yet

But you say it differently

Like you have more to say

And I want to lean in

Despite myself to hear it

The Stuff Dreams are Made of

At the time of starting this post, it was Day 16 of National Poetry Month! There is still so much I want to share. Thursday the 18th was Poem in Your Pocket Day. I printed out several copies of poems I wrote and handed them out to several unsuspecting people. I think next year I’d like to purposely run a lot of errands or show up in random places to hand out poems stuffed in both pockets, and see what kind of reactions I get.

For Stephanie Abney’s poetry challenge, we did windspark poems. I loved them so much that I wrote four, and could go on and on with more. It gave me an opportunity for such fun imagery, personification and imagination! If you are already signed up for my newsletter, you received my email with details on the background of the second poem below. You’ll get more details behind the scenes when you subscribe to my newsletter via the link on the right hand menu of my site.

Windspark poems by Aubri Wilson



I dreamed

I was a warrior

On a silver steed’s back

Riding to victory

Fearlessly




I dreamed

I was a seashell

In a sand pile of others

Hoping for a creator

Urgently




I dreamed

I was an aspen

On a mountain slope

Trembling in the wind

Serenely




I dreamed

I was a ship

At the castle gates

Waiting to be let in

Breathlessly

And here’s a fun little acrostic for today’s challenge that I wrote after being inspired by a bee I noticed on a hike today, pollinating a gorgeous pink cactus bloom:

Precious gathering of nectar is mine

Oasis of color in the desert delights me

Lingering a few weeks, these blooms attract

Luring with scent and hue

Incomplete without pollen I pick up

Nectar for me and fertilization for them

As I visit flower to flower

Thanks to me, then comes the fruit

Overwhelming work, no, it turns sweet

Rectifying stress in the creation of honey

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