Manys the time I’ve contemplated starting my day with a ritual.
I’ve marveled at people who begin each morning with thirty minutes of meditation, or yoga, or reading a book, or writing a book.
I want to be like those people.
I am, so far, decidedly not like those people.
Sure, I wake up early. The older I get, the earlier I wake up, still sleepy, still clinging to the last good dream, foggily awake, but only awake enough to know I need a trip to the bathroom. And on the rare mornings when I don’t wake up early on my own, the cats become my insistent alarm clocks.
But waking up is not the same as getting up. And getting up is not the same as doing something useful, or creative, or restorative, or even fun.
If I have morning rituals at all, they include a certain amount of grumbling and sighing, followed by feeding and tending to various living beings, and then making myself a cup of tea as quickly as possible.
I’m dimly aware that a morning ritual goes hand in hand with self-discipline. I’m not usually good at that. Not for a sustained period of time. And certainly not in the morning.
But, hey, anyone can improve, right? I’ve started two morning rituals this month that I haven’t shared with you yet, for no particular reason other than I hadn’t thought to do so. My early morning brain. It’s still a bit rusty.
Anyway… the first ritual is picking a favorite poem to read every morning in April in celebration of National Poetry Month. Here are the poems I’ve selected each day this month:
April 1 ~ Skunk Hour ~ by Robert Lowell
April 2 ~ Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird ~ by Wallace Stevens
April 3 ~ Mama’s Promise ~ by Marilyn Nelson
April 4 ~ Aubade ~ by Philip Larkin
April 5 ~ The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter ~ by Ezra Pound
April 6 ~ The Poet’s Occasional Alternative ~ by Grace Paley
April 7 ~ I Knew a Woman ~ by Theodore Rothke
April 8 ~ Now We Are Six ~ by A. A. Milne
April 9 ~ Nevertheless ~ by Marianne Moore
April 10 ~ When Death Comes ~ by Mary Oliver
April 11 ~ Some People ~ by Wislawa Szymborska
April 12 ~ Crows ~ (nursery rhyme)
April 13 ~ Oysters ~ by Seamus Heaney (on his birthday!)
April 14 ~ The Convergence of the Twain ~ by Thomas Hardy
April 15 ~ Early Sunday Morning ~ by John Stone
April 16 ~ The Summer Day ~ by Mary Oliver
April 17 ~ The Lake Isle of Innisfree ~ by W.B. Yeats
April 18 ~ Love After Love ~ by Derek Walcott
April 19 ~ Hyla Brook ~ by Robert Frost
April 20 ~ Home to Roost ~ by Kay Ryan
April 21 ~ For You ~ by Carl Sandburg
April 22 ~ The Goose-Girl ~ by Edna St. Vincent Millay
April 23 ~ Sonnet XXIX ~ by William Shakespeare (on his birthday)
April 24 ~ Litany ~ by Billy Collins
April 25 ~ The Sentence ~ by Anna Akhmatova
April 26 ~ The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock ~ by T.S. Eliot
April 27 ~ Foundation ~ by Edwin Morgan
April 28 ~ The Dong with a Luminous Nose ~ by Edward Lear (a favorite of H’s)
April 29 ~ Grongar Hill ~ Edward Dyer
April 30 ~ Happiness ~ by Jane Kenyon
After April 30, I won’t necessarily pick a new poem each day, but I plan to continue reading and, more importantly, writing poems after that, even if only a little bit each morning.
If you have a favorite poem (or two or twenty!), I’d love for you to share them in the comments of this post. I can always use new favorites to read and love.
My other new ritual is a set of daily photos, usually taken in the morning (but not always), from the two opposite corners of our deck. I’m posting these photos each day at this site, and will continue for a year (until April 8, 2013).
I have no goal for this ritual other than to take my camera outside each day, in all weather, and watch the slow, steady accumulation of photos turn into a blur of a year in our corner of the valley. We shall see what we shall see.
The hill will turn from brown to red to green to gold to brown to white.
The trees will grow taller.
The clouds will come and go.
Contrails will streak.
A rainbow might appear.
Stars, planets, the moon.
Rain, fog, and snow.
A new day. Each day. Collected.