Exercise #38: Self Knowledge
This one is borrowed from another list. Way back in April of 2002, Pam Casto posted this and another exercise to a writing list I was on. I wrote to both and they were incredible experiences for me. I feel these are best done in this order, and together, so I'll post the second one next Friday, and consider them a Self-Knowledge exercise, part 1 and part 2.
Since I originally had some trouble understanding exactly what the exercises wanted, I've included my writing to these behind them, as possible further explanation. (It'll be interesting to see what I write to them this time!)
Choose an abstraction (something lacking in concrete details), such as love, hate, fear, longing, creativity, intelligence, or pain. Then for each of the categories below, pick something to illustrate the abstraction as you see it, something concrete. Give a brief descriptive phrase, continuing the metaphor. For example, if I pick love, I can say, "love is a robin, full-breasted and bright."
other (must be something concrete)
Using the concrete examples you've come up with, and the descriptive phrases, put together a paragraph or two or however many you need about the abstraction you chose. This should give us a full picture of your concept as you view it. Remember, metaphors are personal, so these descriptions should be unique. Try to avoid cliches.
Word limit: 1200
Please use the subject line:
SUB: Exercise #38/yourname
winebird's Abstraction; Loneliness
Loneliness is the last passenger pigeon, mounted and stuffed in a museum.
Loneliness is the howl of a coyote in the middle of the night.
Loneliness is a tornado's trail.
Loneliness is Plymouth Rock during the Gold Rush.
Loneliness is the first crocus of the season.
Loneliness is an oak among pines in winter.
Loneliness is the ocean's center with no land in sight.
Loneliness is a table for one at a fancy restaurant.
"The last Passenger Pigeon," the sign said. The bird in the glass case, though life-like, was lacking something. A sparkle of the eye, the luster of the feathers, something. Suddenly it struck me. This bird had died alone. The last...
How must that be, to be the last? A name comes to mind. Ishi. Vaguely I remember something about Ishi and being alone. Then I remember Paul.
I remember giving back a ring. A table for one in the restaurant where he proposed. The howl of a coyote that first night in an empty bed. The image of the aftermath of a tornado on the nightly news and wondering if Paul was in that town.
Gradually, acceptance. I remember the first time I didn't feel adrift in an ocean of my tears. As if I'd just awakened, I nod goodbye to the pigeon in the glass case and head home. There, I walk amid the meadow just off the back door, seeing again the lone oak tree, leafless. It stands, arms upraised, naked. Surrounded by green-clothed pines it embodies all that I feel.
Beneath the oak I see the first crocus of Spring waving gently above its snowy bed... and even though the image is one of loneliness, still I find I'm seeing hope.