Today, my ten year old and I had a half hour after school before picking up my eldest from yoga. I bought her an ice cream then drove to a sunny spot to park and wait. As I closed my eyes and let the sun caress my skin, I remembered I had Natalie Goldberg’s book, Writing Down the Bones with me. I turned to a random chapter and began reading as my daughter slurped her enormous ice cream cone behind me.
I loved what I read so much, I asked her if I could read it aloud. She replied, “Sure,” and I began. In her chapter titled, “Every Monday”, Goldberg recounts the story of spending every Monday one winter with her friend, Kate. The two wrote for hours and read their work aloud to each other.
She states that during this time she learned the importance of building relationships. She also discusses how writing this way helps us to have perspective on life. She says, “Remember Kate and me on Mondays when nothing in your life seems worthwhile but earning a living and you find yourself worried about it.”
Here’s the passage I love best:
“We are part of everything. When we understand this, we see that we are not writing, but everything is writing through us. Kate and I wrote through each other and through Mondays and through the streets and the coffee. Like bleeding one color into another.”
With that, we did our prompt which was a ten minute free write beginning with, “I am a friend to…” Here’s what we came up with in our ten minutes. They are unedited free-writes.
“I am a friend to the trees. I appreciate them every day. They supply me with clean air and I breathe and stretch into their beauty. Their roots supply me with a feeling of groundedness. I imagine myself traveling down their roots–connected to all their tangled tributaries to places unknown. Around obstacles, through the dark, moist soil to the waters below.
I swim there and gather the nutrients for them. The grey, green and bronze stick to me like newly fallen snow. I go deeper still–to the core of Gaia–bringing up life force energy to nourish the leaves.
I am a fire now burning bright, letting the heat galvanize me or perhaps destroy me. Ashes to nourish life, to bring forward whatever is most needed. Nestled here for a moment burning, at the core: gathering. intesifying. yielding to the heat.
Now ready, from the tiniest fiber I come back up–woven, curling, leaving a bit of soulshine on the way. Through the roots, around the rocks, growing bigger, giving up my essence along the way. More, until I am inside the trunk mergring. big. whole self tall and strong: giving everything I have collected, everything I know.
And now, I feel the tree pulsating inside me, giving its essence —
I open my eyes and I am standing with my arms open, my back against the trunk. I feel the letting go.
I am a friend to the trees.”
“I am a friend to the Earth. The trees. The beautiful sun. Whenever I walk down the sidewalk, I see the beautiful trees. The sun doesn’t come out much but when it does, it blesses me and I bless it with love, joy, peace and happiness. The earth is such a lovely place.”
Shortly after we finished our prompt, Gigi began to write a new story in the journal I had given her. She wrote as we drove home and told us about her characters. I asked a few questions that got her juices flowing and she kept writing for another three hours, stopping only to eat dinner.
Amazing what a ten minute free write can do.