For me, November has always been a month to hurry over or smudge. During the eleventh month, some people write novels, others grow moustaches. I fidget with cold fingers until it ends, looking forward to US Thanksgiving as much as to give thanks for the end of the month as for anything else.
In memory, November is the month of hoping for early snow. After the splendour of autumn, it is the bitter half of the season, the crumbling that is fall. Birds leave. Flowers finish. Night lengthens. The winds sharpen. In the branches of trees, the bones of the year are laid bare. Although the solstice is weeks away, November days feel shortest of all to me. November is a dip, a hush before the advent season. A lull.
This year, I want to make peace with the month. Although I write most days, I don’t post most days. Sometimes, months go by without a word here. As way of inhabiting instead of enduring this barest of months, I’ve decided to share a short post each day. The writing will be rather rough. I’m thinking of it as bringing a block of marble out of the quarry each day to see how it looks in the November light. I’m calling this project Present, not precious.
Would you like to join me? You could join in on any or all of the days. You can participate in many ways: you might simply choose to read and use my words as a springboard for your own thoughts, you might journal your thoughts, perhaps you’ll share writing here or post on your own blog. Whatever you choose, I hope you, too, find a way of becoming present, not precious.
Several years ago, I did something similar. There were 32 days until I was going to meet a friend in Paris. So I wrote down 32 words in my journal. Each day, I chose one randomly to write about as a bellwether for the day. At the end, I typed up all 32 entries and gave them to my friend. This time, I’ve chosen 30 words to guide each day’s writing through November.
Here are my words:
Because I wanted to root the writing in the experienced world and avoid abstractions, I made a guideline of choosing things I could see, touch, hear, taste, smell, or visit. You might like to spend some time coming up with a pool of your own words. What will your words be?
I’ll be back tomorrow to share some ideas on a mindset that I hope will help me embrace a month of Present, not precious.