Thursday, May 31, 2018

Some words to carry with you . . .


"Sorry No Image Available" by n e o g e j o

"Searching for meaning is like searching for a rhyme scheme in a cookbook. You won't find it and it will bugger up your soufflé."       

                        – Tim Minchin


June 1st.

Phew, I made it! At certain points last month, I was doubtful I would. Life has been unfolding at such a fast clip, it's been a challenge simply to keep pace. No wonder I struggled to come up with a window poem last month—quite frankly, I couldn't sit still long enough! But thanks to Diane Mayr's helpful link to a marvelous series of "Haiku Windows" at the Haiku Foundation, inspiration appeared in the nick of time. (Read my window haiku here.)

My Wave Pics
I imagine many of you are also finding yourselves racing at breakneck speed toward summer's open door.

It's not just students who are smelling the lusty scent of freedom. Teachers wrapping up the school year are ready for something new, and parents, too, are suffering from physical burnout and mental malaise. While some teachers are putting their final marks on the year and others are envisioning what comes next (ie, life after teaching), there are parents like myself who have children embarking on new life adventures. Whether a teacher or parent, it's exhausting walking that line between trying to be helpful and letting our children find their own path. We all wonder whether we've done enough.


Time marches on.
My oldest is graduating high school tomorrow.

          Is he ready?
                                     I think so.

                      Am I?
                                     Doesn't matter. It's happening whether I'm ready or not.

To commemorate Dylan's graduation, I'd like to share some words from Australian entertainer Tim Minchin—his nine life lessons. While it's not poetry—it's a commencement address that took place at the University of Western Australia in 2013—you'll certainly find aspects of poetry, including metaphor, observation, introspection, and a fresh perspective.

(If you'd rather read a more traditional graduation-themed poem today, I suggest the one Linda Baie shared last week by William Stafford or my own from the Carol Boston Weatherford's abecedarian challenge last September—"A Mother's Advice.")

Comedian Tim Minchin has been described as "unabashedly offensive," but this video is fairly tame. There are just a couple of moments where parental guidance is advised. Minchin's recommendations include atypical notions like "you don't have to have a dream," "don't seek happiness," and "remember, it's all luck," as well as heartfelt pleas to "be a teacher," "define yourself by what you love," and "respect people with less power than you." You may not agree with everything he has to say (or how he says it), but he's funny, thought-provoking, insightful, and surely deserves twelve minutes of your time.

Listen up, Dylan—this is for you.


Minchin closes his talk with this:
Life will sometimes feel long and tough, and God, it's tiring. And sometimes you will be happy and sometimes sad, and then you'll be old, and then you'll be dead. There is only one sensible thing to do with this empty existence, and that is— fill it. ... It's an incredibly exciting thing, this one meaningless life of yours.

His advice prompted me to check in with my one little word for 2018—RESOLVE. At the beginning of the year I resolved to find out what I was capable of.  How was I going to fill up this one wild and precious year of my lucky life? Reflecting on my specific goals, I've completed one of the two new manuscripts I intended to write this year. This is good—yay me! On the other hand, I haven't sent off nearly as many submissions as I *should* have by now. (I'm really terrible about submitting my work.) But that's okay. Perhaps I'll do some catching up this summer. Or, maybe I won't put extra pressure on myself to catch up. I'll just take things as they come.

If I'm to heed Tim Minchin's advice, Life Lesson #1 entails "passionate dedication to the pursuit of short term goals":
Be micro-ambitious. Put your head down and work with pride on whatever is in front of you. You never know where you might end up. Just be aware the next worthy pursuit will probably appear in your periphery. Which is why you should be careful of long term dreams. If you focus too far in front of you, you might not see the shiny thing out in the corner of your eye.

"Noticing" by Mark

While Today's Little Ditty is on summer hiatus, I'll be enjoying some overseas travel, helping my son pack up for college, and, if all goes according to plan, welcoming my parents who are also undergoing a major life change this summer. If I commit to any more than that, I'm in danger of crowding out the shiny things. So for that reason, one thing I won't be doing this summer is forming a new ditty committee or working on a new volume of The Best of Today's Little Ditty. Instead, I anticipate a 2017-2018 edition coming out in 2019. I do have some very exciting Spotlight ON interviews scheduled for this fall, however, so stay tuned for those!

For now, I'd like to leave you with one final thought:

"Paper Trails" by Leland Francisco























Poetry is everywhere; it just needs editing.
                                                                                                                         – James Tate

Remember that even when I'm not here, you can satisfy your ditty-writing itch by using these handy-dandy alphabetical listings of Spotlight ON interviews and DMC wrap-up celebrations.



As for last month's fabulous challenge brought to us by Julie Fogliano, we've had several more window poems added to the padlet since last Friday. I've added them to the wrap-up presentation and sincerely hope that you'll take another look.

Diane Mayr has carried the window poem challenge into June! Be sure to check out the one she is featuring today at Random Noodling.


Random.org has determined that the winner of a personalized copy of a house that once was by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Lane Smith, is . . .

JUANITA HAVILL
Congratulations, Juanita!


Join Buffy Silverman for a celebration of summer helicopter seeds and this week's Poetry Friday roundup.


37 comments:

  1. "Is he ready? I think so. Am I? Doesn't matter. It's happening whether I'm ready or not." That sums up successful parenting--give yourself a pat on the back! Love the advice to work with pride on whatever is in front of you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I gleaned quite a few unexpected AHAs from that address! I know you're probably crazy busy with your PF rounds, Buffy, but when you have a chance you should come back and give the whole thing a listen. I think you'll find much more to appreciate. It's pretty eye-opening.

      Delete
  2. I'll listen to Tim in the morning, Michelle. But a line special to me is "respect people with less power than you." I wish you a marvelous summer noticing and celebrating those 'shiny things'. I think they're important, too. Best of wishes in these transitions. They all seem to arrive whether invited or not!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! What Minchin says about people of power being obnoxious to wait staff hit home with me. Way back when, I remember judging boyfriends the same way! Hope you have a marvelous summer too, Linda.

      Delete
  3. Marvelous post Michelle–wonderful, inspiring, and fun talk by Tim Minchin, I smiled all the way through! Enjoy all of what's infant of you, or at least some of it. Your overseas sounds fun–happy sailing, and thanks for all the inspiring posts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely a smile-worthy speech, Michelle. Glad you enjoyed it as much as I did! Have a wonderful summer. xo

      Delete
  4. Congrats on a new manuscript, sending out work, inspiring hundreds of poems, and a graduating senior! That's a busy and full of meaning year. Thanks for a fun school year of poeming. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank YOU for lending your beautiful voice to my ditty world, Bekah. xo

      Delete
  5. Michelle, you sure know how to reach your readers! I am in love with this grand hello...gotta run....goodbye. I will miss checking in with you weekly as I get so many wonderful ideas and inspirations here. But, I look forward to knowing you are out enjoying all the shiny things. I really do hope you work on submissions. I say that as someone who is terrible at it! But, your poems and your writing has a place bigger than even TLD. I'd love to see more of your work out in the world. Many congratulations on completing manuscripts! Your RESOLVE is positively shiny!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Linda. I especially appreciate the kick in the rear about submissions. I know it will happen (I'm a determined bugger), I just can't let myself stress out about it when other things come up. You're pretty shiny too, y'know. :)

      Delete
  6. "If you focus too far in front of you, you might not see the shiny thing out in the corner of your eye." -- good advice! You're a wise friend and a wise mom, M.
    Thinking of you today as Dylan experiences this momentous milestone!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love Tim Minchin. What a great person to give advice to Dylan before his journey into life outside of the home. I can't believe that Dylan is graduating. Wasn't he just "1"? I'm curious about your planned travels and your parent's plans. What is Dylan planning? ����‍��We are in the process of saying our goodbyes to my mother. At 95 her time is coming to an end. I am just hoping she doesn't linger. She has had a good run and it's her time to sleep. ❤️��

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sure feels like he just turned one, Judi! We still have that wonderful poem you wrote in his birthday book. :D We'll be touring the UK for about three weeks and then Dylan is off to the Florida Institute of Technology to study aerospace engineering in August. Love to you and your sisters as you tuck your mother in for her long rest. xo

      Delete
  8. Thanks for the intro to Minchin -- what great, heartening advice. And Congrats to Dylan on graduating! Sounds like you have a very busy summer ahead. Enjoy your blog break and hooray on finishing your manuscript!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jama! You too — enjoy your summer. :)

      Delete
  9. Thank you for every single bit of inspiration in this post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you found it inspirational, Mary Lee! And thank you for your comment on my Mother's Advice poem too. :)

      Delete
  10. I love your resolve for the summer, working with passion on the thing in front of you while noticing the other shiny things. My summer so far has been bouncing from one shiny thing to another. It's been great so far! I hope you have a wonderful summer and fill up your well and work on submissions and hug your child a little longer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so happy about all the wonderful, shiny things in your life right now, Margaret. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of BAYOU SONG!

      Delete
  11. Thanks for the shout-out, Michelle! I'm with you on "mental malaise." I've got it big time and have been considering a permanent blog vacation. I'd probably be better-served by retiring from my library job. At least I have choices! Enjoy your summer travels and we'll see you when we see you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed, Diane. We need to find ways to be kind to ourselves however we can. Yes, there are options... and closed doors often lead to new open ones. Enjoy your grandchildren this summer. (That's always a great place to start!)

      Delete
  12. Most interesting graduation speech. Thanks for sharing it here. I really enjoyed it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad you enjoyed it, Rosi! Have a great summer.

      Delete
  13. Congratulations to your son and to you as you both embark on this new chapter in your lives, Michelle. I've seen many Tim Minchin videos in the past, but I think this this one is probably the most profound (and tame). Thanks for sharing and here's to seeing "the shiny thing out in the corner of your eye"! *Prost!*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for clinking glasses with me, Bridget! It will be a change for sure... and really only beginning to sink in.

      Delete
  14. Oh, Dear Friend, thinking of your Mama heart today as Dylan graduates! What an exciting time. Congratulations and light and love to all.
    This is great: "If you focus too far in front of you, you might not see the shiny thing out in the corner of your eye" - yep. And that quote by James Tate - "Poetry is everywhere; it just needs editing." - that's my new favorite.
    Have a fantabulous summer!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Robyn— hope you have a fantabulous summer, too! I'll be thinking of you "nearby" while we both explore the highways and byways of Great Britain.

      Delete
  15. What a wonderful video, I very much enjoyed it. As for you and your family, wow, that is a lot of change. My best to all of you as you go through it. And submit!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes ma'am! I guess I better submit now that I've got you and a few others keeping me to my word.

      Delete
  16. Oh wow! That was one of the best graduation speeches I've heard. I've already passed it on to my daughter (even though she is between two graduations. Congratulations to your son. It is a balancing act to figure out this whole letting go and still giving support. I hope I'm getting close to right. Enjoy your travel and may you find many shiny things! Have you read Kurt Vonnegut's collection of graduation speeches? I kept thinking of them while I listened.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think "getting close to right" is probably as good as it gets, Kay! I have not read Kurt Vonnegut's collection, so thanks for the recommendation. I'll check it out.

      Delete
  17. Thanks so much for introducing me to Tim Minchin and his thought-inspiring, funny, joyful speech. So much to love there! I'm going to share it with my kids as well. I especially enjoyed his thoughts on micro-ambition--working with pride on what's in front of you but being aware of those shiny things on the periphery. Words to live by, indeed! Best wishes for a wonderful summer and congratulations to you and your son on his graduation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love how profound the concepts of Tim Minchin's speech were, even though they were disguised in humor. Thanks for the good wishes, Molly. Have a great summer!

      Delete
  18. Congratulations to your son! May he catch sight of those shiny peripherals. And may you have rewarding travels this summer. I am excited and in awe that I have won Julie Fogliano's beautiful book. Thank you, random.org and thank you, Michelle, for this inspiring blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know you're going to love the book, Juanita. It's a beauty for sure, and it's going to a beautiful soul.

      Delete
  19. I'm stopping by (very) late, Michelle. But your post found me at a good time. TWO WEEKS until we bring my youngest to college! It's going to be a big transition. I love the idea that we should respect those with less power than ourselves. Thank you for that.

    ReplyDelete