Pause for Poetry.

Via on Mar 13, 2013
Photo by author
Photo: Julie van Amerongen

One of the best things about the neighborhood I live in is the accessibility to so many things right within walking distance.

We can walk to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, the bank, the movie theater, yoga and dance studios, restaurants and wine bars, haircuts and gift, clothing and tea shops. We haven’t driven to our kids’ school in more than three years.

You might envision that I live in a high-rise somewhere, but the fact is, I have a backyard where chickens co-habitate with my two canine friends and my garden produces enough kale to feed us year round. Neighbors congregate on the sidewalk to exchange recipes and garden tips and to let their dogs say hello to each other.

While mine is a walking lifestyle, I have to admit that while I walk, I often have my head buried in my phone, conducting a meeting with a colleague or rushing from one appointment to the next.

A few years ago, some wooden posts started popping up around the neighborhood in front yards near sidewalks. They look similar to the posts that real estate agents put up when a house goes on the market, with a window box to display a paper or poster. But instead of facing outward for people who drive by to see from the street, they face the sidewalk for walkers to view. And instead of containing an advertisement for a home, these posts contain poems.

Called poetry posts, the idea is simple: to offer a thing of beauty to the people walking by and for the people walking by to slow down, take a breath and infuse their day with a bit of sweetness.

At certain times of year, there seems to be a code that the poems become thematic with the holidays—poems about love during February and a pause for gratitude around Thanksgiving. Sometimes there’s not a poem at all, but a story, or a piece of art or a photo. Some people post one, while others leave multiple copies so you can take one with you.

One of my neighbors created a walking map of the neighborhood, indicating where all the boxes are located. I love this. For me though, the idea is not to create some time to go seeking out the poetry posts, but for finding the unexpected pause as I fly across the neighborhood to get to a meeting or pick up the kids.

To stop for a minute, to read something rich, profound, funny or profane is an interruption of the best kind.

It brings us back to the moment. It’s an opportunity to pepper our days with pauses, to remind ourselves that stillness can be found—or made in the most unexpected moments. And that when we take that moment to come back to center, once again, we find ourselves right where we left ourselves the last time.

 

 

 

 

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Assistant Ed:  Wendy Keslick
Ed: Brianna Bemel

About Julie van Amerongen

Julie van Amerongen is fascinated by the intersection of practice and optimal living. She serves as the Director of Community Development for Conscious Capitalism, Inc., and is the Founder and Curator at The Practice Project. Check out www.thepracticeproject.org, or follow her on Twitter @thepracticepro.

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