There are several forms of poetry that I truly enjoy. I don’t know where this comes from, as I essentially have no history with poetry. But, I think if you’re following my blog, we can agree that “eclectic” is a nice, agreeable term for my personality. So it probably comes as no surprise that I love the Haiku. I mean, what’s not to love? There are three lines with specific syllabic requirements; and the first two lines agree while the third line is juxtaposed against the first two. It is a challenge begging to be mastered.
Not long ago, I dreamed up this idea that I thought would be fun. Thankfully, I have a team at work that is willing to entertain my whims. Otherwise, I’d just be this weird dude with weird ideas that didn’t work out. So, I dreamed up this idea. What if we (my team) all took a couple of weeks and wrote our own personal Haiku? My team members got to choose how it represented them – whether it was past, present, or future. At about the midpoint of the assignment, we pondered whether or not our lives would fit into 17 syllables. So we decided to add a wrinkle. Everyone should send their Haiku poems to me. I would compile them and read them aloud while everyone else on the team voted on the author.
While I won’t type them all, my team did fantastic. Some of them were very specific and others were more metaphorical, but all of them represented their author in some specific way. I’ll lead off with mine. Not because its the best, but because I can most readily explain the story behind it. Here goes:
Roll the rock up, up
Roll it today and always
Those of you familiar with Greek mythology will already recognize the reference to Sisyphus. For those unfamiliar, Sisyphus was a world class smart aleck. In life, he outsmarted both man and god alike. So in his afterlife, his eternal task was to roll a boulder up a hill only to watch it roll back down. Personally, I struggle with futility and anything that is circular. If there is a definition of hell for me, it would be to suffer the fate of Sisyphus. But alas, I identify with him as well. I readily recognize the folly in the mundane, everyday tasks that constitute my day-in, day-out routine; and yet at work I dutifully go about my tasks as if I had the short term memory of a gold fish.
As for the third line, it essentially means that over time, things do change although they often border on the imperceptible. It wasn’t until I accepted my mundane tasks and the duty with which I execute them that I recognized that change does happen. One day, I’m plugging away rolling the rock up the hill with a sense of duty and all of a sudden, it becomes trendy to roll the rock up the hill. The next thing I know, I’ve got a following. People want to know how they can roll their rocks up their hills as fast and as far as I do.
As a forty-something, I also identify with the book / movie Fight Club. I think this was the most pointed reference I had to identifying a Power or Spirit Animal. Since Fight Club, I have often joked that my spirit animal is a dung beetle (Seriously, check my Twitter feed). It doesn’t take a genius to associate Sisyphus and dung beetles, so I’ll leave it to you dear reader to pull it all together. Plus, I was in an office setting, so its much safer to talk about rocks and boulders than it is to talk about dung. I digress.
Here are a couple of other notable Haiku poems from my team – without all the Greek mythology / Discovery Channel references.
Rough notes on a page
Melodies sad and hopeful
Heart sings with laughter
Music in my head
The wind and trees surround me
Living wild and free
And perhaps my personal favorite:
What comes after this?
Another year has gone by
Oh great, more traffic
In the end, my team loved this activity. They enjoyed the chance to be creative in an otherwise standard corporate office setting. We also enjoyed the guesswork of deciding who wrote what. What I find most interesting is that if we did it again in a few weeks time, the Haikus would be different. There is something very “here and now” about this activity. Which leads me to my closing questions:
What is your Haiku?
If you were to restrict “who you are” to the very short requirements of the Haiku, what would they be right here, right now?
I’d love to read yours.