Not Like A Bicycle. Well, kind of…

Writing is not like a bicycle.  You do forget how.  You think “I totally know how to do this” and you get on and crash miserably and then kick it and go sit in the corner with a scotch.  Then you forget to pick it up for a while and it gets very rusty.  It takes time to oil the chains and make sure it isn’t going to fall apart on you the second you push it out of the garage.  Or that the seat isn’t going to fall out from underneath you.  Or the tires aren’t flat.

Okay, so writing is a little bit like a bicycle.  Maybe you don’t forget how, but you forget how to do it *well* and you get very rusty, and the rustier you get the harder it is to get going again.  Or keep going, sometimes.  Sometimes writing will rust right out from underneath you or the seat will twist or the tire will go flat and you’re all ‘WTH writing, we were doing so well, what happened?’ and all the writing can do is shrug and go sit in the corner with a scotch.

Until a prompt comes along that reminds writing why it likes you, and it’ll come over and tap your shoulder and whisper in your ear and say, “Hey… that prompt looks easy.  No steep slopes or weird turns.  And the weather is nice today.  Maybe we should take that prompt out for a ride and see where it goes.”  And you think to yourself, “It does look nice… and I haven’t written in a while.”

So you try it, and at first you aren’t too hopeful because it didn’t work out so well last time you tried.  Or the time before that. Or the three times before that.  But you’re a writer, it’s what you do, and you’re also a bit fatalistic, so you figure if it isn’t meant to be it won’t happen, but somewhere in that jaded little heart of yours you’re also just a touch optimistic which is why you keep trying anyway.

Yesterday was the result.  It was small.  It was simple.  But I liked it, and I *finished* it.  Because it was small.  But it oiled the chain and re-inflated the tires and did a little basic maintenance and off I went for an easy little ride.  That whet my taste for a bit longer ride today.  To wit:

Līgo Haibun Challenge – Picture Week

Another Life

Red clay encased hair ropes down her back, conjure images of roots deepening through the red clay to anchor the spirit to the land.  This is her land, thick with the blood of her foremothers, the dreams of her children’s future.  The ornaments at her throat were not assembled in a factory for ten cents a day.  This is a life not marred by forty hours of overtime in a race to get the next big screen TV to hang in the mortgage you can’t afford.  But don’t confuse content for simple, simple for ignorant.  A bright mind lays behind those bright eyes, filled with wisdom and hope.  Elsewhere, not erstwhile.   Mukuru bless those who dwell in the between, praised by the joyful clap of work-worn hands beneath the sun.  Ochred black, beautiful.

African mother
First child at her breast nourished
Like the summer lambs

And as an aside:

I’ve always loved African hair.  Ever since I was a child.  I think it started with my love of Ancient Egypt (because really, any culture which worships cats is right up my alley) and just went from there.  The beauty of it always made me just a little jealous.  The hairstyles, the braids, the volume… hair that could do beautiful and amazing things, while mine just hung there all limp and straight.  Of course, then I grew up and realized that I was not only unusual in this, that American society actively punishes African women for how they look, even for just wearing their hair in their traditional and natural styles, from being told it’s unprofessional, to assuming it must be a political statement, to calling it ghetto.   Which is just… really tragic and horrible.

I’ve always found African aesthetics – their hair, their skin color, their smiles – to be absolutely beautiful.  The woman in the picture above?  She could be a model in my eyes.  (Not that she’d want to be, from what I hear of the industry…)


32 thoughts on “Not Like A Bicycle. Well, kind of…

  1. Interesting, thoughout!
    The ethnic look isn’t all that common even in Africa, now – away from rural areas anyway – which is a pity because many of the western fashions simply don’t suit them.

    • Well, I know the whole world looks different than a lot of people like to think. But who am I to say “that’s a shame” when I don’t wear my own ethnic clothes, either? But then “suit” is all a matter of opinion. It’s possible they don’t suit only because it’s not what we think of. Just like … oh, I don’t know, a Kimono may not suit me, because I’m not what people generally picture wearing one.

      Oh, and the hair wraps. I totally love African hair wraps.

  2. I am truly impressed, Eliza, and really happy you have chosen Līgo Haibun to let your writing…roll on again. 🙂 Welcome!
    Exquisite haibun – so vivid and real, the rhythm and the tones that you reveal in every sentence. Moving – emotionally, and also food for my thoughts. About many things. You reminded me how beautiful people are just being themselves. Pure and melted together with their roots, the past, from the very first drop of milk from mother’s breasts.
    And the African aesthetics – I am all there about them, with you!
    I can link you if you don’t mind or, of course you can, in the inlinkz ‘box’.

  3. Beautiful. I had to read this a few times before I dared comment because both your introduction and haibun were so interesting and enriching – from the senses to the intellect. I am humbled you wrote your haibun for this weekly ‘challenge’ and would like to add to these comments on my site on Saturday, as I think it would be beneficial for any further readers to see writing that can touch the senses like yours did. First your philosophies as mentioned – yes, I agree very much, about the writing, the aesthetics and the sensitivity. Now, the haibun – beautiful rhythm, very tactile about the hair and technically interesting about the red clay – and totally correct Agnieszka says, who took the photo. Then that revelatory sentence, that beautiful truth, the ornament around her neck not mass-produced at 10 cents an item. Your sentence about life marred by forty hours of huge screen TV junk reminds me of Wilfred Thesiger, the explorer, who said of the desert bedouin that they refused to live life ‘2nd hand’ through the radio, and valued conversation. The added information did give pause for thought, as Ese says, and your haiku was touching – and deep.
    Thank you so much.

  4. Right from your first introductory line ,you had me hooked and as the writing entered the challenge zone,I fell in,hook ,line and sinker-wow!Loved what you wrote-beautifully expressed:-)

  5. Pingback: The Weekly Haibun Challenge Is Out! | Tea with a Pirate

  6. beautifully written – i love how you added the contrast of modern society with the culture seen as simple yet the very one that brings true contentment. very enjoyable read. thank you.

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