My maternal grandmother was a cook in the old people’s home that was two minutes walk down street from her South Wales valleys terrace. She didn’t go to college and worked in catering for most of her life. As far as I am aware, she knew nothing about haiku. But she did notice the things that went on around her. She noticed the old man in the home who hadn’t eaten his breakfast, the child who had swam too far out on a holiday beach and which entrant’s sponge cake had sunk over a hot afternoon’s judging at the Abertillery and District show.
As someone who chooses my seat in a room based on the view outside, I think that noticing gets a bad press. For some people, noticing conjures up animage of a lace-curtain twitching nosey neighbour, someone who is interested in everyone else’s business. But being aware of what is going on around us and not judging these events is an essential part of being in the moment. It’s a state of mind that offers a chance to be free from at least some of the what ifs and if onlys that can easily way–lay us. And while I can claim no great expertise in mindfulness, I recognise that when I am noticing the minutiae of what goes on around me, much of my negative internal dialogue fades away.
Where haiku helps in this process is by offering a readily accessible format for recording the everyday moments that we notice. Writing down these observations is good practice in itself. But sometimes, through use of juxtaposition or references to the seasons, writing a haiku, senryu or small stone* can conjure up something extraordinary from the everyday that enables the reader to make a connection to something beyond a simple observation. I think that in a world full of noise and distractions, that can only be positive.
the smell of damp
in her front room
· See Fiona Robyn’s Small Stone blog