Gratitude

We don’t always take time to thank other writers, and less often do we do this publicly.  Last night in Sonoma, several of us community poets and writers celebrated the declaration of Jewel Mathieson as City Poet.  Arthur Dawson, who had served in the post four years, passed the mantle to Jewel, and the feasting and reading began.  Jewel read a powerful piece, “Ravenet,” about her own transformation “by the healing work of zen raven.”  Arthur, Lin Marie de Vincent, Chris Giovacchini, and other talented celebrants shared words that honored and supported Jewel in her new role speaking for the City.

Jewel’s life as poet, however, is not new.  She has crafted words and performed them for decades.  We’ve witnessed her journey.  We’ve joined her as we’ve journeyed ourselves.

When it was my turn to read, I recalled first seeing Jewel at the Sonoma Poetry Festival in the early 1990s, dancing through the crowd to the podium.  As she made her way up the aisle, I wondered, “Who is that?”  Her confidence and comfort in the role of poet were clear–and this was some twenty years ago.  She proceeded to give an energized reading that wowed the festival.  She has continued to grow in her work through the years.

My greatest gratitude to her personally is her kindness to my daughter Rose, who attended the Waldorf School while in preschool.  Rose spent hours in after-school care, which Jewel presided over, and the support she gave me as a single mother is something I’ll never forget.  She was kind and respectful to Rose when I couldn’t be with her.  She was instantly attuned to me when I arrived at the end of a long day, having commuted from Marin County after performing office-bound work that I’d gladly have thrown off to spend my days with Rose.  That Jewel put my mind at ease is a gross understatement.

You don’t have to know Jewel personally to appreciate the importance of expressing gratitude whenever we get a chance.  I’m glad to have lived long enough to understand this, even a little.  A book given me years ago by my then-coach Reva Solomon, Attitudes of Gratitude by M.J. Ryan, has a chapter called, “Leave a Trail of Happiness.”  I can’t say I’ve always left such a trail, but now I’m taking the advice of the author to express thanks to those who have done us a kindness or touched us in some way.  Living in gratitude is one important step toward joy.  Ryan says:

You don’t necessarily have to send letters (although a card or letter is particularly meaningful to many people, especially these days when the mailbox seems to contain only junk mails and bills).  A telephone call or email message will also work.

And, for us writers, a poem, song, or prose tribute is one way to give from a place of overabundance.  We have a lot of words reverberating in our brains.  That some of them emerge in the form of thanks seems to me especially important.

So last night, with apologies and thanks to Elton John and Bernie Taupin, I read a slightly fractured version of “Tiny Dancer.”  I share it here, to celebrate with the written word Jewel’s new role and to thank her again publicly.

TINY DANCER

Blue jean baby
Ken Brown’s lady
Poet with the band
Pretty eyed, pirate smile
You married a long-haired man
Ballerina, you must have seen her
Dancing in the sand

Now she’s City
Poet, yippee!
Give the girl a hand

Market freaks, out in the street
Buying lettuce at the stands
Turning back, she just laughs
The plaza never is that bad

Radio man, he makes his stand
In the auditorium
Looking on, she sings the songs
The words she writes
The tune she hums

But oh how it feels so real
Standing here, Jewel is near
All of you and you can hear me
When I say softly, slowly

Tell a story, tiny dancer
Tell the story of the highway
Lay it down with grace and rhythm
You’ve had an awesome day today

Blue jean baby
Ken Brown’s lady
Poet with the band
Pretty eyed, pirate smile
You married a long-haired man
Ballerina, you must have seen her
Dancing in the sand

Now she’s City
Poet, yippee!
Give the girl a hand

Image

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1 Comment

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One response to “Gratitude

  1. Read it here, too: Ken’s Corner, Sonoma Index Tribune, http://kenscorner.sonomaportal.com/2012/08/23/tiny-dancer/. Thank you Ken and Jewel!

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