musings from the slightly north

Here I sit in Owen Sound, the land of milk and honey and cold freaking basements where the computer lives.

Sheesh. I'd better type fast.

Away from Toronto for a day and my brain starts to function on a different level, as the quiet of my house and its slower pace of life leaves me with time to contemplate the world in a different way. Thoughts that bubble just below the surface in Toronto, shunted aside by the distractions that accompany big city livin', here are allowed time to surface and percolate. Owen Sound, at least for me, gives time and space.

Time and space for doubt to re-emerge, in this instance.

Said doubt, however, is not a bad thing. Let me explain, won't you? It's the holidays, you have lots of time.

As mentioned previously I tend to get ahead of myself and a wee bit self-congratulatory for producing the tiniest something. On a mission to buy moustaches the other day Annie even noted my tendency to play fast and loose with the word genius...when describing my own work.


She's great for "calling it as she sees it" and forcing me to think about what I'm saying or doing.

Is the poem I wrote this week the best thing ever? No.
Do I have the right to be pleased by a clever turn of phrase and take joy from it? Yes.

Even if I think I'm using genius ironically, on some level there's a whole lot of ego rumbling, telling me I don't need to work hard. That no matter how long it takes me to make one thing, when that one thing is done my inborn brilliance will be revealed and lauded by one and all.

That's dumb. And a dangerous trap to fall into.

So! A harder working me, rife with humility is what is needed from here on out (until the end of time). Confidence is fine, but thinking everything I do is a paragon of awesome risks stopping me before I start. Why work more, try harder, and push onto bigger and better if I'm already sainted? Reminding myself, even if it's forcibly, that there is always much to be done can only help me in the long run.
(This isn't a new year's resolution, just a resolution that happens to have come at this time of year. Sometimes having a fixed date in mind for a change can help, but I figure why wait if you already know what needs to happen?)

Hurray for self doubt!

Good doubt can also emerge when you're reading an entire book of poems by someone who's quite good. There's this guy, Leonard Cohen, maybe you've heard of him. Anyway, I've been reading Book of Longing, his latest, and it's reinforcing how important consistent work truly is. I mean, you don't get 200 plus pages of poetry with an hour's writing, every once in a while when you're in the mood.

Beyond that, the poems are pretty neat too.

With so many poems in a book there's bound to be a lot of variety (not all of them are equally fun or golden), but the ones I'm enjoying the most are what I would call spare. Simple, clear writing, without need for overt cleverness, provides more than enough for an enjoyable poem. You could end the interaction there and walk away happy, but the truly great thing is that such simple writing can leave you thinking that there's something more. I feel a hidden depth of meaning that such simple words shouldn't be able to hold, but they do.


Here's one, the last poem I read before shutting off the lights last night.

The Moon

The moon is outside.
I saw the great uncomplicated thing
when I went to take a leak just now.
I should have looked at it longer.
I am a poor lover of the moon.
I see it all at once and that's it
for me and the moon.

Pretty good, huh? Can you tell where his writing ended and mine began? Probably.

Oh Leonard. He really is interested in the mundane and essential acts of humanity. Eating, sex, poo and pee. He sees a lot of beauty there and those themes emerge again and again throughout his work. Also, he apparently really likes to go down on ladies. Good for him!

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