I wanted to follow yesterday's post with something useful for anyone who may have been affected in any way by the difficult subject matter. There's no substitute for professional help of course but sometimes along comes a book that can be safely added in to the mix.
I haven't rushed to share my thoughts on Fiona Robyn's book small stones : a year of moments because rushing is exactly what Fiona discourages. I wanted to give the book time, to use it in the way that I think Fiona intends.
I also think I know what Fiona intends because her first book A Year of Questions sets it all out very clearly.
A book about slowing down and seeing.
I'll be honest and own up to a minor aversion to self-help therapy books. They really are not me and that's not because I am arrogant enough to think I don't need them but much more about the sort of person I am. However sometimes along comes a book that really impresses.
A Year of Questions is thankfully a different sort of self-help book because it's one that talks good basic common sense. There are some beautiful quotes too, this one from Pema Chodron really appealed,
'A further sign of health is that we don't become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it's time to stop struggling and look directly at what's threatening us.'
What better way to think about facing up to the demons?
Everyone needs to develop their own strategies and Fiona has plenty of suggestions. I know that for me the most effective way to harness the bit of me that is easily buried is to tap into my creativity, start eyeing the fabrics, browse the quilt design books, check out the wool situation (always healthy here) set up the swift for some skein winding and cast on some socks.
One thing writing this blog and sharing a small piece of the world I live in has taught me is that it remains possible on a daily basis to reflect on the familiar through new eyes and see it all in a new and vibrant light. Just walking down the lane with my camera month by month has been a revelation of observation, seeing things I would usually pass by or, even worse, drive over and squash.
small stones a year of moments is something very similar.
Almost haiku-like in their brevity and often with an open-endedness that leaves the thought ebbing and flowing around your mind through the day, brief daily observations of the ordinary things in life, one for every day, and quite soon you will start noticing small stones of your own. It might not be meant but there's space enough in the book to write them down too.
The book has sat propped on my desk and I have turned to it most days, it focuses you on the minutiae of life and hasn't disappointed me once because I have quickly learnt to appreciate that the simplest things can harbour so much meaning.
We dismiss them too readily but the next time you overhear a conversation think small stone and see what happens,
'The lady is so pleased to be asked how she is by the cashier (someone, anyone) that she tells her about her husband in the hospital, who has Alzheimer's. It is a kind of bereavement, but not.'
or spot something as you are driving,
'dog daisies on the roundabout: standing room only'
or how often does this happen?
'A muscle underneath the lower lashes of my right eye has mutinied. It vibrates in the mirror: the wings of a bird trapped in the corner of a room.'
Suddenly the notebook becomes essential and wordsmithing within everyone's capabilities. Fiona will welcome your small stones to a new blog starting here in September and Snowbooks will be publishing her three novels in 2009.
A great discovery.