Shocks of Beauty – Writing Prompt
Do you do this once in a while – look back at your life and see all the shocks of beauty? You can filter out the dumb stuff, the mistakes, the pain, the ugly bits, the embarrassing stuff, the gruesome parts, and the weird feelings on a good day, and there they are – the beauty shocks – if you just follow the light. I tried to capture a bit of this feeling in a poem-essay in my book Asking which you can read here. (Just scroll down for it).
I keep the book Ordinary Affects by Kathleen Stewart on a book caddy on my desk. I’ve written about it before. I keep coming back to this sentence:
“For years now her early childhood has been coming back to her as shocks of beauty, or beautiful shocks.”
She also says, “When a still life pops up out of the ordinary, it can come as a shock or as some kind of wake-up call. Or it can be a scene of sheer pleasure – an unnamed condensation of thought and feeling. Or an alibi for all the violence, inequality and social insanity folded into the open disguise of ordinary things. Or it can be a flight from numbing routine and all the self-destructive strategies of carrying on. It can turn the self into a dreaming scene, if only for a minute.”
I’m sure you’re getting weary of all my Rome photos…..but I’ve added to my ongoing list of those shocks of beauty. A bottle on a ledge in a graffitied alley. Flower stalls, and even garbage cans.
So my writing prompt for you today is to make a list of these still life moments, these beauty shocks, jolts, starting from this morning. Maybe the way the steam rises from your coffee mug, the butter melting into your toast. Then look at yesterday, last week, last month, last year, go all the way back to your childhood.