Month 4: Drawing a Map
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
These lines are from “The Way It Is” by William Stafford and I think they dovetail beautifully with the task of this month: figuring out where one has been and where one would like to go.
There’s a quote by Ven. Robina Courtin, a Buddhist nun, that I like very much. She says: “You’ve got to know exactly where you are. You’ve got to know how far you’ve come from and how far to go. Then you can relax, because you have a map. Even if it’s walking from here to Tasmania, if you have a map, and you look on your map, and you know where you are, even though it’s a way to go, you know where you are. And the mind can be peaceful.”
This is the idea here—to figure out one’s map and then relax into it. And then, even though it might be a long way to go, the mind can be peaceful.
Here’s a nice reading of the poem.
And here are many many poems (though not this particular one) by Stafford at The Poetry Foundation . How wonderful that so many of his poems are available on-line.
Ira Progoff, a student of Carl Jung, who developed an elaborate process of journaling for self-discovery, one that involved binders and dividers and multiple colors, used the term stepping stones to describe a way of looking back and examining one’s life. I’ve always found his term evocative. I see the stones on a path with spaces between them, the stones stretching back as well as forward. Our lives are a river of moments. The stones are those key moments—often ones we remember vividly—often ones where something of significance turned,...
In 2001, Laura King, one of the researchers in the field of writing and health, conducted a study in which she looked at what happened when college students wrote about something she calls “their best possible future self.” By this time, a large amount of data had already been collected on the benefits of writing to work through difficult past experiences. King became interested in exploring what other kinds of writing might be beneficial to health. Her study is one that I don’t think has been written about enough....