How does a person become astonished in our snarky, competitive, disconnected world?
I’m reminded of the days when my peers wore plastic, slightly stretchy bracelets with the letters WWJD as a reminder to ask themselves, “What would Jesus do?” In the case of astonishment, I would vote for “What would Mary do?”
What would Mary Oliver to sustain a life of astonishment?
We know she work up early and highly valued the “early riser life.”
We know she loved to tromp around the woods sometimes with her dogs, almost always seeming to commune with nature. She was a forest bather before forest bathing was a thing.
Come to think of it, I find Mary Oliver’s life astonishing.
People compare her writing to Thoreau’s. Wouldn’t it be an honor to have your work compared to Thoreau, he who closed his seminal work with the following words? “The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.”
It would be astonishing to be compared to Thoreau or Mary Oliver or indeed any of the writers I will be featuring here during women’s history month.
Some of the best ways to climb into discovery is through lists – so for today, I will ask you to compile a list of astonishing moments.
Our tendency is to limit “astonishing” to mountain top experiences: trips to Paris or childbirth or overcoming nearly unbelievable obstacles. I invite you to look instead at “everyday astonishing” – and know I will be looking for the same and sharing this time of unearthing of words.
After you have compiled a list of seven astonishing incidences – big, medium sized and tiny, start with one and use it as an inspiration to write about it for five minutes. Write in a free flow, stream of consciousness style, not worried about where your words are going – simply move your pencil.
Choose another and write for five minutes. Go for a third and again, writing for five minutes.
In doing so, you will get to know astonishment like you know your inhales and your exhales: as natural as living your everyday life.
And then, as Mary advises “tell about it” in words, on video, in a painting or journal of any kind.
You, my beloved, are worth your astonishing experience. The world has been hoping and wishing and waiting for you to tell about it. The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.”
This post is a part of the Women’s History Month Writing Quotes & Prompts series from Julie JordanScott, the Creative Life Midwife, and her Word-Love Writing Community you may join for free on Facebook. During March, there will be daily discussions on the quotes and prompts we present here, too. Join the conversation and improve your writing at the same time!