Zuihitsu: A Perfect Form for the Times

I was introduced to a new writing form today on a forum I follow called 49 Writers. ( Alaska is the 49th state to join the Union.) They’ve devoted a post a day to bridge the gaps in meeting with fellow writers during the pandemic restrictions. Today’s post was from John Morgan of Fairbanks who defines a zuihitsu as ” a Japanese form involving loosely related prose sections, often numbered. Calling on free association, it makes use of diary material, lyrical fragments, and brief essays. The word zuihitsu means “follow the brushstroke.”” I’m intrigued to give it a try.

Feels Like Spring: May 3, 2020

  1. The buds on the birch tree by the deck have hesitantly emerged. After all, it was still 33 degrees last night. But those 55 degree days of sun are alluring. Local wisdom says when those buds are as big as a squirrel’s ear, we can plant. I’m watching for squirrels.
  2. I’m planning a party for a friend who is on cancer treatment. She’s been on strict quarantine of course. Yet with precautions, she and her husband agreed that some social interaction would be healing. But I never had to take into a consideration that I could kill someone if I had a party. We are planning the distance apart we can take on the deck and everyone is to BYOM–bring your own mask. Sanitizers will be at the base of the stairs to the deck. No food. Provide your own drink and glass. If you bring a gift, wipe it down with chlorox wipes or just don’t bring one. Whew. Sounding less like a party. Counting on Love to carry us through.
  3. My three year old granddaughter told me yesterday that “My shadow very loves me.” I said, “Oh how do you know?” She explained,”Because when I’m swinging or running or on my scooter, it always comes with me.” Very love.
  4. Took a deep breath and tried going to Costco for the first time since the shutdown. The variety of masks in colors, styles and sizes alone is engaging. But when I got hemmed in by carts near the cheese aisle, I had some momentary panic. I don’t want to think of my fellow human beings as toxic to me–but I did.
  5. If not for the pandemic, I would be at a campground in Capitol Reefs National Park right now. But the Park is closed, my reservation money has been sent back and we couldn’t drive our camper through Canada anyway with the borders closed. I haven’t been home in April for a long time. So I’ve planted seeds, seeds and more seeds. My dining room table is now the greenhouse. There is that moment of looking a seed that is almost microscopic and trying to believe that will become a green thriving plant. Yet they are pushing up through the black soil and leaning with all their might toward the light of the window. It’s hard to believe a virus so so much smaller than that seed can kill. Yet I see the statistics every night on the late news. I’m glad it’s the season of long days here where I rarely see the dark anymore. I’m leaning into light too.
  6. A notice went out from the local church that if the church buildings open up again for worship, there can only be 20 people inside. And no communion. No greeting handshake, no sharing of the peace. And no singing. “A singer can spray up to 27 feet,” the message advises. I notice I’m humming hymns much of the time these days as I putter in the yard. No conscious intent to do so, they just arise. My latest is What Wondrous Love is This O My Soul.
  7. My mother is still in isolation at the rehab facility after her fall and resulting hip fracture. It’s 3500 miles away from me. Her dementia keeps her isolated as well from understanding where she is, why she is there and why the heck we don’t get her out of there and take her home. The adjoining facility for those in assisted living has an outbreak of Covid19. I wait for daily updates and send her emails through the social worker.
  8. One day at a time has taken new meaning. I wake up, sense my body and with a sigh of relief say to myself, “I’m not sick.”
  9. I didn’t want to write about the virus today.
  10. ” It is I who must begin. Once I begin, once I try– here and now, right where I am, not excusing myself by saying things would be easier elsewhere, without grand speeches and ostentatious gestures, but all the more persistently–to live in harmony with the “voice of Being,” as I understand it within myself–as as soon as I begin that, I suddenly discover, to my surprise, that I am neither the only one, nor the first, nor the most important one to have set out upon this road. Whether all is really lost or not depends entirely on whether or not I am lost.” A poem by Vaclav Havel.

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