Weighing Words

downloadA new year, a new challenge! This month’s Swagger challenge came from Heidi Mordhorst. After we’d been discussing whether or not we each were going to choose a One Little Word (OLW) for the year, she announced that “To Word or Not To Word” would be our group’s January challenge.

OLWs. I’ve chosen one before…maybe two..or three? I know I didn’t choose one last year. Did I the year before? Scrolling back through blog posts, I find that I have chosen OLWs two times. In 2016, I chose “Choose” and in 2018, I chose “Pause.” It seems to be an even-year sort of phenomenon–which makes me feel like I’m due in 2020.

As I reread those posts, I enjoyed reconsidering the reflective process I went through to select the words, and where I was in my life when I wrote them. I remembered that I always liked the focus of OLW, how it pushed a word or an idea to the forefront my mind. I enjoyed the process of  considering words and their shades of meanings. So, did I want to choose a word this year?

As we head into 2020, even without regarding the state of our world, our nation, I’m feeling a bit out of kilter. My youngest graduated from college last month, and my oldest is getting married in May. My middle child lives a rich, independent life more than a day’s comfortable car ride away. The chicks have not only emptied the nest, they’re now building their own. Which leaves me, mama bird, looking around wondering, “What’s next?” I have many interests, but sometimes they pull me in different directions. All too often, I feel scattered and unfocused.  Could OLW help me with that?

Weighing Words

I ponder words
some heavy, some light
examine nuances,
unexpected meanings,
surprising depths.
I weigh words in my mind
sift, sort, and shuffle them,
consider the possibilities,
reflect on my recent lack of discipline–
list after unfinished list– and
my new unfortunate tendency
toward procrastination.
Again and again,
I return to one word:
“focus”
a powerful contender.
I turn it over in my mind
pleased by the layered meaning,
the nod to photography.
Could this be it?
But, what about bokeh–
that much desired
out-of-focus
photographic effect?
And don’t seeds widely flung
lure flocks of birds
more surely than a concentration
at a single feeder?
Clearly, a steady focus
can accomplish much,
but an eye fixed on the destination
can also miss
the beauty of the journey.
For ultimately, isn’t it scattered light
that creates rainbows?
©Molly Hogan, 2020 (draft)

So, apparently I’ve talked myself out of adopting a OLW this year, though I don’t rule out that one may find me later. It’s a process, right?

Hmmmm….process….Now, there’s an interesting word…

Note: If you’re interested, here’s Wikipedia’s definition of bokeh:
“In photography, bokeh (/ˈboʊkə/ BOH-kə or /ˈboʊkeɪ/ BOH-kay; Japanese: [boke]) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”.

And here are two of my photos that demonstrate it.

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The year’s first Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Carol at Carol’s Corner. She’s sharing a wonderful poem by Maya Angelou, and I highly recommend that you stop by and read it. And then read it again. And again. (And here’s the link to the Roundup!)

Then, visit my fellow Swaggers’ sites and see how they responded to the “To Word or not To Word” challenge. Just click on the links below:

Linda at A Word Edgewise
Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
Margaret at Reflections on the Teche, and
Catherine at Reading to the Core

18 thoughts on “Weighing Words

  1. Linda Mitchell says:

    Wow! I’m new to the word Bokeh….but, I love it! Yes, a photography word or set of photography words is good for you. I do love the image of you sifting and weighing words…trying to make a decision. It’s all so fun. I look forward to being able to hear which word sings truest for you this coming year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      While I pondered, It struck me that coming up with a word at the end of the year could also be an interesting reflective process. In the meantime, maybe I’ll consider a word-of-the-month for now…although that means I’m already late for January! lol

      Like

  2. carwilc says:

    I’m not a photographer, but I’m currently reading Ralph Fletcher’s book, FOCUS LESSONS: How Photography Enhances Our Teaching of Writing. Your post makes me think of some of the things Ralph says about writing. I love the idea of Bokeh. My life feels a lot like that right now and you make me think maybe that’s ok! Happy no OLW in 2020!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I bought “Focus Lessons” as soon as it came out and, with one thing and another, I’ve barely cracked the cover. Thanks for reminding me to dig in. I know there will be much to treasure there as I’ve personally already found so many connections between writing and photography.

      Like

  3. lindabaie says:

    Thanks for the new word, ‘bokeh’, will send it on to my photographer-loving grandson. As for your choice, I enjoyed hearing that you feel “seeds widely flung” make sense to you at this time in one’s life. Changes cause reflection for our life journeys, a step forward into “what?” I like the way you wrote about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. maryleehahn says:

    Your point about seeds flung wide vs. concentrated at the feeder resonates with me. I’ve kinda sorta chosen a word, but in actuality it’s a part of a whole collection of words, and that, I guess, puts me in the camp of not choosing a single focus, but rather the wide angle.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Molly! Look how hard it is for any of us–at a certain age, perhaps?–to narrow in on a single focus. Perhaps at this point in our lives wisdom re*uires us to embrace the esthetic and even practical blur of complexity that we now know is real life. Bokeh reminds me of the way we s*uint, deliberately unfocus our eyes, to see something more clearly–the distribution and balance of the string lights on the tree, the arrangement and balance of colors in a *uilt. See how “Weighing Words” puts balance at the fulcrum?! Thanks for this rumination.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tim Kulp says:

    This is excellent! In innovation work we often talk about the value of PROCESS vs. PRODUCT. That the product is important but perhaps not as important as the process that created it. Process would be an excellent OLW for 2020.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks, Tim. I thought a lot about process versus product while writing this. It’s something I think about when teaching as well. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the product end of things. Perhaps I’ll adopt “process” as my word for January and take it for a test run…

      Like

  7. Your blurred image is beautiful! I like the pondering in your poem and post. Sounds like a handful of us are interested in this wider “Focused” view… And your ending poem line captures this,
    “For ultimately, isn’t it scattered light
    that creates rainbows?”
    Thanks Molly!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It is a process! And I love how you pondered…examined…weighed…and yet ended up without a word. Your poem is brilliant, and I love these final lines: “For ultimately, isn’t it scattered light/
    that creates rainbows?”
    Thank you for sharing your wise words.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks, Catherine. This challenge was a struggle for me to write about in a poem, as I have always pondered through this process in prose. Probably tackling it in a prose poem would have worked better for me…if only I’d thought of that then, not now! Well, you know what they say, “Hindsight is 2020!” lol

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Tara Smith says:

    So interesting to learn about Bokeh! I love the question you pose at the end of your poem, it connects to the meaning of this word so well.

    Liked by 1 person

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