Welcome to Long-Headed Letters
Letter-writing is both an art and a science.
In a technically-advanced age when texting and tweeting one's fleeting thoughts in 140 characters or less has become the rage, the ability to compose something a bit more substantial might be considered by some to be challenging both to read and to write.
So, if you have the attention span of an ant, or can barely string two words together that haven't been abbreviated to accommodate the thumbs of a terse texter, then the content to be found on this page may not be suitable for you.
On the other hand, if you're comfortable with words and delight in playing with them as much as appreciating the invisible things in life, then you may well find long-haired letters to your liking.
Image Credit: contrariaN creativE
For those who love odd, obscure, or obsolete words.
According to The Penguin Dictionary of English Synonyms by Richard Soule, the hyphenated expression "long-haired" means:
Long-headed, a. Sagacious, discerning, intelligent, acute, shew, clear-sighted, keen-sighted, far-seeing, perspicacious
So the next time you feel like using another synonym for a "blue-stocking" person who uses their noodle, has a silver-tongue, and wields a mighty fine pen, be sure to think of a "long-headed" literary soul.
Richard Soule, "The Penguin Dictionary of English Synonyms" (London, England, Penguin Books Ltd., 1991), p. 322.
Long-Headed Literary Personality - photo by contrariaN creativE
Inspired by an encounter with nature
Image Credit: Photo "Thorny Issues" by contrariaN creativE
As I proceeded at a leisurely pace along the windy beach path the other day, I came across you, a vivid corn-colored patch of plant life festooning the landscape above the man-made seawall.
I literally stopped in my tracks, mesmerized by the brilliant light and warmth of the sun's rays upon your hardy branches filling the nooks and crannies of a rugged, steep embankment.
Fascinated by the juxtaposition of the newly emerging pastel petals amidst the sharp spikes of the tangled and twisted branches, I lost track of both time and space.
As if by design, you spoke, slowly yet softly, so as not to alarm me:
"You appear to have a fondness for my bountiful blossoms which is a little unusual since most human beings see only my frightful features. Perhaps their fear of a pesky plant like me has more to do with their own precocious or prickly personality than with my true nature."
I smiled without reply, knowing that life, like that Gorse Bush, offers us both pleasure and pain. There will always be some among us who, bereft of joy and peace of mind, are only too willing to harvest those prickles and to plant a crown of thorns upon those whom they have deemed the source of their plight or problem – the undeserving, the unworthy, or the unacceptable.
But those who remain open to all that life has to offer cannot help but be touched by the wild yet tender beauty of a gangly bush that occupies such an unassuming place in nature.
Perhaps if we could conceive of a universe, a natural world, or even a community in which everything belongs and everyone matters, we might see, feel, and consider things differently.
If we can appreciate the diversity of our environment, the changing seasons, and the cycle of life itself as part and parcel of the human journey, then perhaps we can learn how to welcome with equanimity not only the magnificent moments and passionate pursuits, but also recognize and accept the presence of thorny issues or prickly personalities as a way of encouraging us to explore the unfamiliar and unacknowledged parts of ourselves and of others.
In so doing, we honor the heart and soul of a world that we all inhabit. And, by inviting and sharing these deeply-felt connections in our web of wonder and wisdom, we become fully aware of the vital life force that sustains us all, including those sassy or silent spirits who cling so tenaciously to life in every nook and cranny of our planet.
So, next time you pass by a Gorse Bush, instead of ignoring it or issuing an insulting invective, accept the invitation to embrace its beautiful blossoms and its bedeviling boughs.Then bless this day and learn to celebrate life in all its color, its complexity and its contradictions.
Inspired by a morning moment
Who in their right mind would write a letter to an inanimate object without a name?
Only someone who feels invisible not unlike the water that appears in the vessel standing by the shed. Like it, I am transparent yet available to all who need to quench their thirst.
Though I may not possess a unique identity, I reflect an accurate image of all that is around me, and possess the power to sustain all life.
And like the rain barrel and the water, neither of whom have a name, each plays a vital role – the container and that which is contained, to nourish everything in times of abundance and scarcity.
Like the wooden vat, my body offers a place to hold my past, my present and my plans for the future. And like the water, I reflect my purpose, passions, and pain, and in so doing, I satisfy my thirst for life.
Yet, when the vessel is emptied of its crucial contents -- love, laughter, and light -- the heart and soul remain parched beyond belief.
So dear rain barrel, please gather those raindrops from the heavens, and be there like a friend to share my joys and tears. Comfort my heart and cleanse my soul, so that I may be sustained for the remaining days of my journey upon this earth.
Image Credit: Rain barrel photo taken by contrariaN creativE
On the Merits of Tossing Out What Isn’t Useful, Beautiful, or Meaningful
Image Credit: The Old Kitchen Chair - photo by contrariaN creativE
I was out the other day puttering about the neighborhood taking in all the spring buds and blossoms when I caught sight of you tucked away in the corner between a front yard wall and a fence.
Looking neglected and forlorn, you seemed to be calling out for attention. Whoever said that an inanimate object does not possess a soul nor is capable of expressing feelings may have had two feet on the ground but lacked any imagination. Since rationality was the furthest thing from my mind that day, that is probably why I stopped, looked, and listened to your pleading for a moment of my time.
As I gazed at your stark appearance and fractured skeleton, I could only imagine the pain that you must have suffered being tossed out of your home onto the street. Gone are the days when you could play a vital role in bringing family and friends together for a casual meal or a Friday night poker gathering let alone provide a convenient spot to park a bag of heavy groceries.
While some may see you as simply a well-used object that once functioned as a safe and sturdy place for plenty of posteriors, others may conclude that your current state can best be described as quite unattractive, uninteresting, if not unpleasant. To me however, you possessed an arresting if not haunting image that captured my heart and spoke to my soul in a way no other could that day.
You reminded me of my own neglected heart and soul, nestled in a corner of a life lived in the shadows.
Your unassuming presence conveyed a valuable lesson to me, that all who occupy space on earth are part of something truly remarkable. We are both visible and invisible. We all play a variety of roles in life and when our service is no longer needed, we are often forgotten, ignored, or cleared away to make room for something new, modern, or state of the art.
In this time of transition and uncertainty, between what was and what is, each of us is given the opportunity to find a new path or a new way of being. Perhaps it is in the apparent chaos of the cosmos that we become aware of where we belong in the great scheme of things. While it is true that we share a time-limited journey on this planet with all things past and present, it may be equally true that we are also part of something that is eternally beautiful and meaningful if we remain open to the mystery and companionship of all souls who reside in the invisible unknown universe.
It was our souls that connected us that day, a fleeting encounter that will forever remain deeply embedded in my memory of what made my walk worth taking, although I could not have known what would unfold for me that day any more than the journey that I embarked upon sixty-six years ago.
On allowing the mystery of life to bring me joy
Image Credit: Colorful Shoe In A Tree - photo by contrariaN creativE
It was late afternoon when I caught a glimpse of you out of the corner of my eye.
I was anxious to seek cover fast to avoid a wily pair of crows with a nest nearby who had dive bombed me the other day for daring to enter their unmarked territory. As I lifted my head not only did I spot the connubial couple preening one another on tree branch above me, but I also saw that there was something very odd yet colorful tucked away in a tree trunk hidey hole.
Realizing that I was not in any danger since these fiends from the netherworld were clearly preoccupied with the intimate rituals of their family life, I decided to follow my curious instinct to explore this surprising yet serendipitous event.
Upon closer examination, with the help of my camera’s telephoto lens, I recognized that the canary yellow object with a bright red inscription on it saying “Do It” was in fact a funky-looking well-worn running shoe.
My only experience with peculiarly placed footwear was seeing them, on several occasions, suspended by their laces and wrapped haphazardly around utility wires. Observing you perched nonchalantly and unobtrusively inside a tree trunk clearly caught me off-guard and yet, as you well know, I couldn’t help but reveal the growing smile on my face.
All sorts of questions went through my mind. Who had decorated you -- a misbegotten marathoner, an ambulating artist, or maybe a fun-filled philosopher? Why were you there? And, how many others like me, were filled with a sense of wonder at being teased by toy in a tree? Perhaps you were simply the consequence of someone’s random act of scattering joy.
In that moment, I was at one with you as invited me into your world of unexpected delight and mystery. If I were religious, I might have thought that God had a sense of humor and given me the answer to my dilemma of the day...”Do it”. But, being a secular and spiritual soul, I am inclined to think that this was the Universe’s weird yet wonderful way of turning my world upside down and letting me know that I don’t run the affairs of the cosmos.
Perhaps your existence, my awareness of your presence, and my willingness to accept everything no matter how strange or confusing, was the gentle nudge I needed to remind me that when we I let my fear subside, I leave room for the magic, the merriment, or the miracle of the moment. Now that I’m ready to “Do It”, to explore and experience the full mystery of life, I am eager to see what happens next!
On the Art of Putting Pen to Paper:
"The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought,
this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps
us regain our equilibrium. " - Norbet Platt
Who Has "Gone Home"
As I strolled through the grassy pathways and old stone markers of the Ross Bay Cemetery, a place I rarely go, it seemed that something was beckoning me to pay a visit that warm summer afternoon.
Now that I am in the harvest days of my life, the sentimental part of me senses a need to return to a memorable place and homespun time in my past. It is quite different however from the long forgotten and deepest part of my soul that urges me to find out where I truly belong in this puzzling paradigm, an ever-expanding unknown universe.
With no particular destination in mind, I found myself standing in front of your nameless weather-worn headstone reading your simple yet haunting message, "Gone Home". It prompted me to wonder who you were, when you had come into this world, and where was your final resting place.
The rays of sunlight striking your lichen-covered granite monument and those well-honed words pulled me closer, inviting me to witness the revelation of a tantalizing mystery. As I gazed upon your marker, I was drawn into a trance-like state, where time stopped, and in the absence of barriers and boundaries, I was conscious of my being alive in the moment.
Images flashed before me of living at home in a bedroom I shared with my sister and our bunk beds that became our fantasy vessel for night-time dreams. Then, I saw a colorful collage of rented flats across the country in which I had spent most of my adult life. While these places offered me shelter from the unexpected storms of life, I never really knew where I belonged. Since “home” was pretty much wherever I happened to be, I became quite adept at finding frugal accommodation, which more often than not I would vacate on a seasonal basis.
While I cannot put my finger on what or where “home” is, I feel most comfortable when I am near water, where I can see the lay of the land, and hear the bustle of life in the hub of community yet be able to walk among evergreen trees that outlive me, hear the sound birds early in the morning, and catch a glimpse of familiar constellations at night.
My return home is to an eternal place, where the soul no longer searches, seeks, or suffers. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not unhappy with my life, but to me a destination is simply a stopping off spot on the eternal journey of my soul. “Going home” is my way of tracing my soul experiences as if in a spiral, each one unique, compelling, and unforgettable.
Your humble farewell that day was an unexpected gift, renewing my faith in my soul’s journey.
Image Credit: Unnamed Headstone in Ross Bay Cemetry, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada - photo by contrariaN creativE
"Let us never underestimate the power of a letter."
Line from the movie, "The Jane Austen Book Club".
For those who appreciate the lost art of letter-writing
For those who are familiar with such things as correct spelling, grammar, punctuation and word usage, writing may be near and dear to your heart, which is probably why you won't mind answering this question.
The Power of Pen and Paper to Change Lives
A simple way to nurture the heart and feed the soul
Image Credit: Penning Prose and Poetry - photo by contrariaN creativE
"As we practice our daily arts, if only in the composing of a heart-felt letter, we are unearthing the external from within ordinary time, engaging in the special qualities, themes, and circumstances of the soul."
- Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul, (Toronto: Harper Collins Publishers, Inc., 1992), p. 304.
autumn fades,/ metal fish rust,/ tides ebb and flow
winter sun/ shifting waters/ fish scurry for shelter
arbutus in spring/ bark unfurls/ green bone beneath
A well-worn curb marks the threshold between death and dying.
staples on a tree trunk/ shreds of life/ fade away
when snowballs/ hang from trees/ spring is here
"Even imperfection itself may have its ideal or perfect state." - Thomas De Quincey
Sea shifts at sunset/waves gently touch cold grey sand/one stone lies naked
Tall trunks reach skyward/roots grow deep in darkened earth/water just whispers
Image Credit: Words on a Page - Copyright 130825 contrariaN creativE
A storefront window filled with foreign words on a page. You realize only too well, they have nowhere to go.
Are you willing to adopt one and save it from the cruel hand of fate?
Will you find common cause with those orphaned words who will be tossed into the dustbin of history without anyone ever appreciating their existence?
Is this the time to act or to passively walk by and ignore their urgent call?
Universal Letter Writing Week: 6-13 January 2014
Why not take some time this week to compose a letter to someone near and dear, to mend a fence, or to express your point of view on something that truly matters to you.