Dewdrops and Dragonflies

Dew on the Grass has been a presence, on the internet, for over two years now. The purpose of the blog has always been to provide a creative meeting space, not only for the four Buddhist friends who founded it but for a wider community of people, not necessarily Buddhists, who wish to capture the essence of the lives they live in photographs, artworks, and words that express the path that leads to the Heart. Whilst we never intended to post every day or even every week, we must admit it’s been a little quiet around here, lately. That could be because we simply don’t have anything to say, right now, and that, of course, is just fine but blogs, like any other area of life, can sometimes suffer inertia that needs further investigation.

For my own part, I have asked the question of myself,’ Why am I not writing?’, without any particular expectation of a reply. I am aware that days get ‘eaten’ by distraction: some necessary, like the practicalities of putting meals on tables (or lap trays, if truth be told), of cleaning, taking care of business, and the like, and some that arise from within myself, like the voice of a chattering child, bringing disruption to ‘flow’; shaking the calm stillness of mind.

I am not alone in this, apparently. A recent edition of Maria Popova’s, Brain Pickings, draws attention to Mary Oliver’s essay, from her book ‘Upstreaming’, entitled “Of Power and Time”. In this essay, which explores the need to give space for the creative, Oliver observes that whilst there are practical interruptions to creativity, ‘ …. just as often, if not more often, the interruption comes not from another but from the self itself, or some other self within the self, that whistles and pounds upon the door panels and tosses itself, splashing, into the pond of meditation. And what does it have to say? That you must phone the dentist, that you are out of mustard, that your uncle Stanley’s birthday is two weeks hence. You react, of course. Then you return to your work, only to find that the imps of idea have fled back into the mist.’

Popova comments that: ‘Oliver terms this the “intimate interrupter” and cautions that it is far more perilous to creative work than any external distraction, adding: ‘There is no other way work of artistic worth can be done. And the occasional success, to the striver, is worth everything. The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.’ Of course, the Buddhist reader will recognize this ‘interrupter’ or ‘distracter’ as ‘monkey mind’; the mind that swings and jumps and causes mischief, rather than ‘settle’. It has been experienced by meditators and creatives alike since the dawn of time and recognizing the ‘mischief maker’, looking it in the eye, significantly reduces its power and energy.

At the same time, there is, I think, a difference between what can be identified as the ‘intimate interrupter’ and the ‘inner daydreamer’. The interrupter is a saboteur of peace, clarity, and creativity, whilst daydreaming, in my experience, is a much more helpful, creative, and meditative state, whereby thoughts and sensations are allowed to drift in and out of consciousness, like dragonflies resting and drinking on the surface of a pond, drawing from it and then departing.

We called this blog site, ‘Dew on the Grass’, partly because of its association with Dogen’s ‘Rules for Meditation’, which is dear to our hearts but, as our ‘About’ page describes: ‘The nature of dew is that it appears in the morning, glistens for an instant and then disappears. Yet it always raises the spirits when you catch sight of it and it will always appear again’. Dew, dragonflies, the analogies are endless but all need the right conditions to develop, delight, and inform us. All are born of a state of natural solitude and harmony, which requires a certain personal effort to protect it.

Without judgment, without harshness, I keep these images in mind, and whilst there may be many practical interruptions that keep me from posting as regularly as I would wish – and are, to a large extent, out of my control – I think I very much owe it to myself, as well as to our loyal readership, to practice a little more diligently, the silencing of the ‘intimate interrupter’ and the development of the ‘inner daydreamer’. Recognition is always the first step, application is the second – on this last rainy Saturday of July, perhaps I have made a start.

If you have something that you would like to post – artwork, photography, or writing- simply contact us, using the ‘ Contact’ button.

If you would like to read more of Maria Popova’s blog, here is the link:

The Third Self: Mary Oliver on Time, Concentration, the Artist’s Task, and the Central Commitment of the Creative Life

6 Replies to “Dewdrops and Dragonflies”

  1. Slightly related to your post Karen I came across a good phrase lately which describes the never-ending onslaught of online information- brain scrambling! I’ve had to make a conscious decision to delete a lot of links I get which sound so interesting but I have to priorotise – I expect others have found the same?
    1. I know exactly what you mean Eric. Over time I have subscribed to newsletters from several ‘good causes’ but recently had to unsubscribe to most of them because my inbox and my mind were getting so overwhelmed by the volume. I hope you are well -it’s nice to see you here, again.
  2. Thanks Karen, that’s a lovely thoughtful piece of writing. I too seem to have been brain-scrambled and distracted these last months. Not at all sure what’s going on. Somewhere I read that having covid can cause or hasten dementia. Is this happening to me? My brain seems anything but calm, my life overfull of random domestic and other tasks. Not at all sure what to do about it!
    1. It’s an interesting conundrum, Chris. Somedays, I go full steam ahead, with a sense of purpose and others are more scattered. I don’t think one is necessarily better than the other – just different states of being. I notice that when I have a day when I have ‘achieved’ something, seeds of pride can settle in, if I’m not careful. Conversely, when I am less organised, judgement does the same. I guess it’s the noticing that is important, the self forgiveness, the willingness to accept both states of being as part of the phenomenon of being human. Don’t know – just thoughts.
  3. Thanks for your ponderings at the start of the blog’s third year Karen. They are most relatable. As with any creative process and long term endeavor, it is finding the right balance between going with the flow and putting right effort, and carving out time from the daily quagmire for reflection and creativity. Thanks for sharing Maria Popova’s blog, I look forward to reading it.
    1. Thank you, Ayse – yes, as you know, I’ve always said that DotG should not be a cause of worry or stress but something we come to as a way of expressing and sharing our experiences. Sometimes, the living of life get’s in the way of writing about it and that is realistic. At the same time, speaking only for myself, it feels important to ‘check in’ with this principle, from time to time. Otherwise, something of value can easily fall by the wayside. I’m sure that you will enjoy Brain Pickings. I just started reading Upstream by Mary Oliver. Lovely writing and source of inspiration.

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