Pandemic Possibilities

I can no longer remember how long I’ve been inside. With the exception of occasional trips to the store and my daily walks around the neighborhood, my world consists of the rooms in my house. I’m sure many of you can relate to the joke that made its rounds shortly before the recent holiday weekend–“I haven’t decided where to spend Easter/Passover yet–the living room or the dining room.” And like many other writers I know, I’ve been feeling stuck.

Ancient doorway in Rome

Sometimes I hear a voice inside saying, All of your best work is behind you. And maybe that’s true–but I am pushing back against my feelings of inertia. I refuse to remain stuck in a non-writing state. Because I have an equally persistent voice inside telling me to just do one thing, write one poem a day. So, I’ve committed to that daily discipline for April, in honor of National Poetry Month. Seems like as good an excuse as any other.

And because I’ve had so many instances of stuckness in my life, I’d like to share an idea that a poetry therapy mentor presented to our class one day many years ago. She asked us to visualize a train on the tracks, speeding along to someplace we wanted to visit. As we settled into the “ride,” she threw us a curve and said, “Now imagine that that train is stuck and you don’t know how long you’ll be sitting still.” I could easily picture how I felt–annoyed, a little anxious, disappointed. Lastly, my teacher challenged us to envision the benefits of being stuck…and to write about them.

For me, one of the benefits of being stuck is that I’m reaching for tools to jump-start my writing–tools that I use in creative writing classes I teach, but don’t always use them in my own work. I’ve downloaded 30 days of poetry prompts and am working my way through the list. I’m choosing news articles that I ‘ve set aside and writing found-poems about them. But my favorite tool is Taylor Mali’s “Metaphor Dice,” a set of 12 different die with a concept (hope) equaling an adjective (broken) + an object (promise). And if you’re more inclined towards using an app rather than actual dice, Mali’s got you covered!

And finally, here’s a poem to inspire you to take a step towards a new beginning, to get unstuck. Think of where you are as a room with a closed door. Now imagine what lies “On the Other Side of the Door.”

On the Other Side of the Door by Jeff Moss

On the other side of the door
I can be a different me,
As smart and as brave or as funny and as strong
As a person could want to be.
There’s nothing that’s too hard for me to do,
There’s no place I can’t explore
Because everything can happen on the other side of the door.

On the other side of the door
I don’t have to go alone.
If you come, too, we can sail tall ships
And fly where the wind has flown.
And wherever we go, it is almost sure
We’ll find what we’re looking for
Because everything can happen on the other side of the door.

8 thoughts on “Pandemic Possibilities

  1. Liza Achilles April 17, 2020 / 12:01 PM

    Thank you, Ann, for this heartfelt post. I love the train metaphor, and wow, it’s so true – being stuck can result in good things! It can result in becoming unstuck in other ways! Take care of yourself, and keep writing. 🙂

    • amusingpoet April 17, 2020 / 3:47 PM

      Thanks, Liza. The experience of being stuck over the years and the felt sense that we worked with in my poetry group have really stayed with me. Glad the post was meaningful to you. Keep writing as well!

  2. Jane April 17, 2020 / 2:29 PM

    This has inspired me. Especially now that some folks are saying we may only have another month of this, I want my creative juices to fly,
    Thanks Ann,
    Jane N

    • amusingpoet April 17, 2020 / 3:45 PM

      Thanks, Jane. Glad this post inspired you. Looking forward to seeing what comes forth!

  3. Lisa Lynn Biggar April 18, 2020 / 8:00 PM

    Thanks for the inspiration, Ann. I am forging ahead with my writing as well. It can be hard to focus at times, but meditation and limiting my exposure to the news helps.

    • amusingpoet April 18, 2020 / 9:14 PM

      Absolutely! We can discover all kinds of new ways to get inspired—-i think you’d like the metaphor dice as well—I’m getting a lot out of using them. Hope to see you soon!

  4. Brian England April 22, 2020 / 5:35 PM

    Super Ann, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

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