I’m an avid Happier podcast listener! Sometimes it’s practical and helpful, other times merely interesting, but always funny.
If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a weekly conversation between two sisters; one who lives in New York city and writes books about human nature and happiness, and the other who lives in Los Angeles and writes TV shows.
In one episode, they introduced the idea of making up a daily haiku as a little mindfulness moment.
And… if you’re not familiar with haiku, it’s a breathtakingly simple Japanese form of poetry that can also be done in English.
Often about nature, a haiku is simply a thought expressed in 3 little lines; the first line is 5 syllables; the second line is 7 syllables; and the third line is 5 syllables again.
Here’s an example by Gretchen Rubin, one I heard on that podcast episode:
Central Park in bloom.
This year, I made sure to go.
Spring passes too fast.
Here is a link to the podcast notes for that episode.
And if you want to check out some haiku by other Happier podcast listeners, take a look at this hashtag on Twitter!
The idea isn’t to write a masterpiece, just to compose a thought in a mindful way.
Inspired by this, I found this lovely little haiku book at the library…
What’s interesting about this tiny volume is the way it brings together the works of traditional Japanese poets (translated into English), and throws in a few classic English poets.
Here are a few I liked from Japanese poets.
Will there be anyone
Not taking up his pen?
This ramshackle house,
And me just the same as ever-
The first day of spring.
How much more of it remains?
The night is brief.
Along this road
This autumn eve.
In the icy moonlight
And here are some haiku-like lines written by western word artists…
I will touch
A hundred flowers
And pick not one.
By a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye.
the room is white
until that red apple
I was puzzled by the way the haiku poems collected in this anthology are so loose in their ‘syllables per line’ structure! I wondered if it had something to do with the translation…
Then I read (in the foreword) this explanation by Peter Washington, the editor:
“Everyone is familiar with the notion that haiku have seventeen syllables, arranged in a pattern of 5-7-5. What matters more is the combination of subtlety, force, economy, and technical refinement…”
That clarifies for me how great poets can get away with having a very fluid relationship with the rules. I think I’ll just stick to the standard form. Maybe one day I’ll graduate to the level of haiku composition that can afford to flout the rulebook, but not yet! I may not have a professional grasp on subtlety, force, economy, and technical refinement, but I can make up a symmetrical little poem with 17 syllables. Here goes:
fresh green fir branches
reach out friendly hands to me
earthy smelling woods
That’s from Sunday afternoon; it’s a sweet and easy way for me to remember my walk up the riverbank trail with my husband.
Have you ever tried making up a haiku?
What else do you like to do for little moments of mindfulness on busy (or slow) days?
Thank you for reading with me,