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Musings from Speedwriting

Musings from Speedwriting

You may be wondering what is that? Musings are just thoughts or reflections that you have when you ponder or contemplate.  Speedwriting, according to American novelist Anne Lamott, is scribbly meditation or just putting pen to paper and writing. 

Here are two pieces of writing from the Speedwriting class that I attended, hosted by Jo Parfitt. Someone is invited to pick a word, or a phrase and we have 10 minutes to write whatever pops into our heads. - Yvonne Quahe

Planting Our Gardens

Immediately my mind goes to Ruth Van Reken, the expatriate guru on the subject for the Third Culture Kid (TCK). Ruth grew up in Liberia, the daughter of missionaries and her father, the Reverend Charles Frame, used to offer the following advice to his fellow expats when they were newly arrived:

“Unpack your bags and plant your trees,” he would say.

And yet it is from dear Ruth that it seems the words fly as balm to the soul of this tortured global nomad, this person with constantly itchy feet.

The phrase ‘unpack your bags and plant your trees’ is important. It reminds us that, if we are ever to integrate into a new place and really settle in, even if we know we will only be there a short time, we must unpack, of course (though how many of us carry unopened boxes from posting to posting?) but plant trees too. Trees that we know we are never likely to see bear fruit.

It’s about faith. It’s about paying it forward. It’s about sowing seeds and being kind, about nurturing friendships as if everything we do or touch will last forever. And yet, as someone who has moved to seven (is it?) countries, it’s easier not to bother planting real or metaphorical trees. It’s easier, instead, to cut branches willy nilly from other people’s trees knowing that we won’t be sticking around long enough to need their shade, blossom nor fruits – so what does it matter, really?

But Ruth and her father are right. We must plant trees everywhere we go, out of respect, out of love, out of good intentions. We need to live our lives as if we will always reap what we sow.

By Jo Parfitt.
Jo is an author, journalist, writing mentor and publisher. She has written over 30 books and hundreds of articles. She can’t help but write. 

Musings on COVID….

I live in paradox with two friends named certainty and uncertainty. Uncertainty is rather domineering and assertive. So, certainty and I discuss how we can regulate uncertainty, turn down the volume. We realize that uncertainty will not be going away anytime soon.

Why has uncertainty become so domineering all of a sudden? I guess it is because much of life is unfamiliar. Uncertainty, I recall comes to the fore when we move, when a situation is daunting or just unknown to me.

Then I call on my other friend certainty, for help. Certainty is like a comfortable old armchair that you can sink back into by the fireside on a cold winter’s day, like the embrace of a loved one who you know is always there for you and never changes.  Feeling and knowing that underneath it all is certainty my old friend.

Now suddenly and mystically domineering uncertainty seems to be receding into the background, almost taking a rightful place.

Questions loom like a grey cloud, pregnant with moisture and about to break, when can we travel to see our children again, have dinner with friends and go to the supermarket unmasked?

By Yvonne Quahe

P.S. Watch this space each month for more  “Musings on…” 


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