“The aspiring poet is constantly lowering a bucket only half way down a well. coming up time and again with nothing but empty air. The frustration is immense. But you must keep doing it anyway. After many years of practice, the chain draws unexpectedly tight, and you have dipped into the waters that will continue to entice you back. You’ll have broken the skin on the pool of yourself.”
– SEAMUS HEANEY
Welcome to this regular slot each Wednesday, which I call Writers’ Well because: it’s intended to be a source of nourishment and inspiration for the writer in you, it expresses my belief that creative writing can benefit our well being on many levels, and…I love the above quote from Seamus Heaney. It gives me goosebumps every time. It also resonates with my own intention when leading writing workshops. It’s not about producing good writing, it’s about brave, real writing. Writing that goes down deep within to draw up something unexpected.
Each week, I share one of the writing prompts used the previous Friday in my weekly workshop, along with an example of what was written in response. Today’s prompt (allow about 20 mins total) is called…Take a walk around your inner garden
Set aside some quiet space and time. Imagine your life and current experience of living represented as an inner garden. Close your eyes if it helps, or find your own way to quietly, gently, imagine taking a walk around that garden. What can you see, hear, smell, touch, taste? What’s growing, or not…? etc etc. I don’t want to give you too many leads, for there’s no right or wrong way…just follow where this idea takes you.
Here is what I wrote:
Full of beauty and potential, but unkempt and overgrown through neglect. It’s a peace garden, with a fountain at the centre, which still has water flowing, though less than it should because it’s all choked with dead leaves.
There are four benches around this peace garden, representing; compassion, loving-kindness, equanimity and joy. Again, they’re covered in leaves, but still perfectly serviceable. I start to brush them off, and realise I’m just moving the problem, not genuinely creating welcome and space. So I go to the tool shed, get a wheelbarrow and a rake, and set to work. It’s cold and dull, but the work soon warms me up. The compost pile has greatly grown, and in big wellington boots I stamp, jump, laugh and dance on it to squash it down.
Time for a break.
I take my thermos from the tool shed , sit at a bench and pour myself a coffee, taking a biscuit out of my pocket, not worrying about my messy hands. As I smile, and sip (not together, that doesn’t work…in case you’ve tried…) I realise I don’t know which bench I am sat on. I turn to read the plaque behind me, rubbing it with the the sleeve of my coat to reveal what’s written beneath the dirt and grime; Joy.
I choke up a bit. It’s my starter bench. , always has been, the one I find it easiest to sit at, and the one where I rest, recharge, take a break, before taking a walk and admiring the garden from alternative places of perception.
But wherever I sit, before me is the movement of water; sparkling, giggling, through, over, falling – a fountain of peace, freed from dead leaves to shine with clarity again.
Thinking about that word Joy has reminded me of this:
Can you describe your own inner garden, as it is right now?
If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here: