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Tender Towards Possibilities

Environmental writer Rebecca Solnit writes to be hopeful means to be uncertain about the future, to be tender toward possibilities, to be dedicated to change all the way down to the bottom of your heart. The sentiment pairs well with the onset of spring in Maine, where the days are still mostly gray, just a dollop of blue, the bulbs mere green slips of shoots in the leaf-laden garden, the tenderest of possibilities. We are told by master gardeners not to rake the fallen leaves, another act of hope, that we can do a small part to support the pollinators, so crucial to our species.


So much to think about, to do, and so much vigilance to consider. And the perennial question, always on my heart and mind: How do we balance worry and despair for the atrocities of the present world, the atrocities to come, along with the everyday generosities, the profound beauty that surrounds us?


I am reading, Tom Lake, by Anne Patchett, about a family sheltering in place on their orchard in Northern Michigan. The mother is telling her three “new adult” daughters the long story of her youth, before their father and the orchard, before them, a story of a more glamorous life as an actress. She wants to keep their minds off of what they are missing stuck at home, keep their minds off of the gravity, the body counts. Stories of her youth are the antidote to the evening news.


“ ‘Turn your head in one direction and its hopeless despair,’ I told them. ‘Turn your head in another direction…’ I pointed to the explosion of white petals out the window.”


In this brief moment, we see her longing to ease the pain of the current times, to help them see the abundance of beauty in this place, the waves of cherry blossoms on a hillside, show how her love for them is the real legacy, what lies at the bottom of her heart.


Writing and words of other writers can give us pause. Fiction teaches life. It can ask us to discern what lies at the bottom of our hearts and pull us to the center of where our ability to act resides. 

Internally, or as a player on a global stage, the question begs… What’s at stake in a scenario? What’s the most important thing?


For me, the answer is often to be tender towards possibilities.


The answer is often love.

(Writers Cabin, photo by Jodi Paloni)

 Creativity Prompts


~ Take stock of what lies dormant in the core of your heart. Set your timer for ten minutes and at the top of a blank sheet of paper or a new document on your computer write the lead line…


The most important thing is…


~ It’s so simple. Keep the pen moving. When you run out of words for the first lead line, repeat it, and keep doing so until the timer dings.


The most important thing is…


~ Do this for ten minutes every morning for a week and take stock of what showed up on the page. Choose the part that catches you, the part you want to underline, or star. Then turn to a fresh sheet, a new document, and write for 30 minutes.


~ If you like to pair making images with your writing, create a collage––––that focuses on shape and color only–––more than specific images or words. Show the emotion of your piece each day, for a total of seven collages. If it’s a good fit, create a small book in which you pair your pieces, and words with images. You can make your simple book or cut and paste your work into a blank journal.


I love hearing from you, so if you use these prompts, I’d love to also hear about them and see what you discover.

(Mud Season in Maine, Jodi Paloni)


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