By Melanie Lee
Author, “A Year In Sedona~Meeting The Muse At Wisdom’s Edge”
(August 13, 2018)
It’s still high summer in Sedona and we’re all still looking for ways to chill out ’til the dog days are done. The Crazy Wisdom Trio of contemplative meditation, poetry, and introspective creative writing might be just what we need to get back to that cool, green garden where the Muse lives.
Begin with a little book by essayist/travel writer Pico Iyer, The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere. Iyer recommends nothing fancy or exotic, rather he suggests just getting chill by slowing down, paying attention and sitting still.
“At some point, all the horizontal trips in the world stop compensating for the need to go deep, into somewhere challenging and unexpected; movement makes most sense when grounded in stillness. In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing could feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.
Poetry, like music, soothes the savage soul and calms the overheated heart. “Love After Love” by poet Derek Walcott invites us to feast on our own lives. “The time will come When, with elation, You will greet yourself arriving At your own Door, in your own mirror, And each will smile at the other’s welcome. And say, sit here. Eat. You will love again the stranger who was yourself. Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, the stranger who has loved you. All your life, whom you ignored, For another who knows you by heart. Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, The photographs, the desperate notes, Peel your own image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your Life.”
Here’s another idea for getting distance on the Sturm and Drang of summer’s heat: introspective creative writing. Why? To save your sanity, you can give your self a new point of view about people, places and things by capturing your Crazy Wisdom on paper. I know this works because I ran a writing workshop once, and everyone was shocked to see that when they created characters based on people they’d recently met, it turned out that the villains and bad guys, the heroines and heroes were just like…themselves! “We are all one” finally made perfect sense. Hmmmm.
So here’s the idea. You could write a piece of flash fiction that would almost write itself if you simply use aspects of your own personality and experiences. Takes a little introspection, but if you’ve read this far then you’re obviously interested in that, so ask yourself, “When have I been 1. eminently believable, 2. incredibly wicked, 3. hopelessly naïve, 4. unremittingly benighted 5. totally enlightened 6. completely irrational, 7. dangerously misguided, 8. almost divine, 9. captivatingly witty, 9.truly fascinating, 10….and so on.
I promise you it is great fun and incredibly enlightening to consciously observe yourself as you set about engaging in a behavior that you’ve done a million times (albeit heretofore oblivious and unaware). Just set aside 30 minutes or so, hunker down, and then minutely examine your behavior as you do something very ordinary in a new way that may or may not make any sense. This might sound as if you have to participate in a sort of split personality experiment for a time and maybe you do. But Jill Jepson, in her insightful book Writing As a Sacred Path, offers an entertaining series of writing exercises designed to create a strange and unfamiliar milieu, which in turn results in a magically altered perspective. Like writing in a physical position that is unusual, maybe even uncomfortable, to spur a perspective that comes only by observing and doing simultaneously. I know thissounds a little crazy, but our topic today is after all, Crazy Wisdom, so lighten up and…..
Stand up. Write a short a description of a group of beautiful strangers, standing up. You, not them. Or them, not you. Use a different surface. If you are usually at a table, try a reclining chair or a folding chair, or a sofa. Get down and dirty on the floor maybe, and write a 10 minute description of a charming villain who appears at a dinner party for a select group of friends you’ve known since fifth grade. Another room. Simple changes feel strange and awkward, as you can see. Great, keep going! Go into the kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom and use the sink, bathtub or bed as a place to write. Now write about how you feel about writing in this way.
If you’ve tried all the above, then congratulations, you’ve joined the Crazy Wisdom Tribe, and in doing so, brought yourself a little closer to wisdom’s edge. August’s dog days won’t last forever, so until we reach September, just get up every day, greet your self anew and give back that self to Life, saying “Sit here. Eat. I love you.” Today, please feast on your life. And chill, be patient with the foibles of our common struggling humanity, and offer your heartiest blessings to everyone you meet on the way to wisdom’s edge. Thank you.
Melanie Lee is an award-winning writer, editor, artist and author. Growing up in Texas, she read mostly biography and autobiography and dreamed of being a writer who could help inspire others to meet their muse by honoring beauty in everyday life. She holds degrees in languages and journalism and was a features editor and columnist, writing everything from lifestyle stories and business news to profiles of entrepreneurs, artists and inventors engaged in the creative pursuit of right livelihood. She lived for ten years in Northern New Mexico where she was creator and director of Sojourns Writing Workshops of Santa Fe.
At the second half of life she moved to Sedona with her husband Louis Michalski. She met her muse anew, took up painting, became a yoga teacher and avid hiker and wrote “A Year in Sedona~Meeting the Muse at Wisdom’s Edge“, available on Amazon.com or from the author. She can be contacted at
P.O. Box 1419 Sedona, AZ 86339 or firstname.lastname@example.org