I said I wasn’t going to choose a specific word or theme for this year because I had so many words I wanted to work with, and that in itself became a word and a process. Of course. So my word for 2023 will be WORDHOARD. In the past week, I’ve been foraging for words (and hoarding them) to make into little cards to represent lots of ideas and themes that have lingered in my inner rooms.
I’ve been painting the insides of cereal and food boxes with gesso, then cutting them into 4×5 cards, then painting and collaging and drawing on them, and pasting a word from my wordhoard–these are the words that I have already foraged and printed from a document. I really like the Courier New font for a project like this. I already have several dozen words in my hoard. I have lots of little cards to make!
After all the recent years of metaphors and symbols and inspirations that I have chosen for my Word of The Year, it feels a little strange to move to something so nearly concrete. It’s my hoard of words. But it has also been–already–a really energizing creative process, both linguistically and visually. I’m including the animal symbols that have been meaningful to me, and words that have been previous Word of The Year words. I’m studying Swahili, so instead of Bridge, I will make a Daraja Card. And Spider will be Buibui.
It’s going to be a chance for me to do some experimental work with artistic processes. I find myself thinking about different ideas I want to try for laying on paint or embellishing.
We usually tend to celebrate New Years Eve at home, and with three of the four of us down with Covid this year, we aren’t going anywhere. Some of us will probably be going to bed in a couple of hours.
1. The challenges. I don’t want to do this year again. But I am grateful for the things I have learned through the challenging times.
2. The sighs of relief. I know that good news does not always follow bad, but this year’s run of bad news was frequently followed by sighs of relief.
3. Making things, coming up with ideas and then making them happen.
4. Moments in time when we look backward and forward, like the god Janus, who sees both past and future, and integrates them into the work of the now. New years, new months, new eras in our lives. How the future reflects the past.
5. You. All my Beloveds. I can’t imagine how I would have moved forward this year without the amazing community of people who surround me. I am grateful. Sometimes it’s just a nod or a little word of encouragement or commiseration that makes the difference.
May we walk ever in Beauty!
Honoring Kwanzaa with those who celebrate it: Today’s Principle in the Kwanzaa celebration is Kuumba: Creativity.
“I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.” —Michelle Obama, Becoming
“The great affair, the love affair with life, is to live as variously as possible, to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred, climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day. Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding, and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours, life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length. It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.” —Diane Ackerman
A string of beads has a thread running through all the beads, keeping them together. What we need is a thread too—of sanity and stability. Because when you have a thread, even though each bead is separate, they hang together.” —Sogyal Rinpoche
“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” (From the Talmud)
“The earth has music for those who listen.” —George Santayana
“By our love and our need for love we become for one another midwives of the true self.” —James Finley
“Civility will not overturn the patriarchy.” —Mona Eltahawy
“The opposite of poverty is not wealth. The opposite of poverty is justice.” —Bryan Stevenson
“Aging is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person you always should have been.” ―David Bowie
“In a political culture of managed spectacles and passive spectators, poetry appears as a rift, a peculiar lapse, in the prevailing mode. The reading of a poem, a poetry reading, is not a spectacle, nor can it be passively received. It’s an exchange of electrical currents through language.” ―Adrienne Rich, 1993
“A revolutionary poem will not tell you who or when to kill, what and when to burn, or even how to theorize. It reminds you… where and when and how you are living and might live, it is a wick of desire.” ―Adrienne Rich
“More firebrand women. More dragon spirited women. More loud women. More angry women. More hard women. More intimidating women. More history-making women. More rebel women. More rebel women. More rebel women.” ―Nikita Gill
“In the teaching of history, there should be no undue emphasis upon one’s own country. The history of wars should be a small part of what is taught. Much the more important part should be concerned with progress in the arts of civilisation. War should be treated as murder is treated. It should be regarded with equal horror and with equal aversion. It will be said that boys under such a regimen will be soft and effeminate. It will be said that they will lose the manly virtues and will be destitute of courage. And all this will be said by Christians in spite of Christ’s teaching.
But, dreadful as it may appear, boys brought up in the old way will grow into quarrelsome men who will find a world without war unbearably tame. Only a new kind of education, inculcating a new set of moral values, will make it possible to keep a peaceful world in existence. In the future there will, after all, be plenty of opportunity for adventure, even dangerous adventure. Boys can go to the Antarctic for their holidays, and young men can go to the moon. There are many ways of showing courage without having to kill other people, and it is such ways that should be encouraged.” ―Bertrand Russell,
“Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part.” ―John Lewis
“The web of life both cradles us and calls us to weave it further.” —Joanna Macy
New Year Poem
by May Sarton
Let us step outside for a moment
As the sun breaks through clouds
And shines on wet new fallen snow,
And breathe the new air.
So much has died that had to die this year.
We are dying away from things.
It is a necessity—we have to do it
Or we shall be buried under the magazines,
The too many clothes, the too much food.
We have dragged it all around
Like dung beetles
Who drag piles of dung
Behind them on which to feed,
In which to lay their eggs.
Let us step outside for a moment
Among ocean, clouds, a white field,
Islands floating in the distance.
They have always been there.
But we have not been there.
We are going to drive slowly
And see the small poor farms,
The lovely shapes of leafless trees
Their shadows blue on the snow.
We are going to learn the sharp edge
Of perception after a day’s fast.
There is nothing to fear.
About this revolution…
Though it will change our minds.
Aggression, violence, machismo
Are fading from us
Like old photographs
(Did a man actually step like a goose
To instill fear?
Does a boy have to kill
To become a man?)
Already there are signs.
Young people plant gardens.
Fathers change their babies’ diapers
And are learning to cook.
Let us step outside for a moment.
It is all there
Only we have been slow to arrive
At a way of seeing it.
Unless the gentle inherit the earth
There will be no earth.
Someone Should Start Laughing
A Poem by Hafiz (Ladinsky)
I have a thousand brilliant lies
For the question:
How are you?
I have a thousand brilliant lies
For the question:
What is God?
If you think that the Truth can be known
If you think that the Sun and the Ocean
Can pass through that tiny opening
Called the mouth,
O someone should start laughing!
Someone should start wildly Laughing—Now!
The poem is not the world.
It isn’t even the first page of the world.
But the poem wants to flower, like a flower.
It knows that much.
It wants to open itself,
like the door of a little temple,
so that you might step inside and be cooled and refreshed,
and less yourself than part of everything.