Last Monday, as my husband and I were sitting at a counter eating pizza at Otto’s in downtown Portland (Otto’s pizza is the best!), I was able to do a little observing, which is a common pastime for writers. Across the street, there was a small group of people of various ages gathered on the sidewalk. They appeared to be homeless, but despite the cold weather and lack of warm clothing, they were conversing and laughing and, what seemed to me, having a really good time together. It was a pleasure to watch them for those brief few minutes and, although I wouldn’t want to trade living places, I was still a bit envious of them. Why? Because, instead of being isolated in front of a large-screen television set or computer, or having a cell phone glued to their ear, oblivious to their immediate surroundings, they were living life in the moment and to the fullest, despite their present circumstances. It made me think of how we could all learn a lesson from observing something like that.

When I travel as a passenger in the car, especially in the evening hours, I enjoy looking at houses and sometimes get a glance at what’s happening inside of them. Oftentimes, I see a person or family sitting at the kitchen table. Many times there’s a big screen television set on. In one particular house that I pass by every evening, there’s an elderly lady always sitting in the same spot on her sofa. It makes me wonder how long she’s been there. This, by the way, is how stories begin. First, it’s the observing. Then the imagination takes over and fills in the blanks.

It is also how poems can begin. Seeing those street people earlier this week reminded me of a poem that I had written many years ago called BOXES. It kind of wraps up my feelings of what I’ve been sharing.


All types of boxes
Set apart from the elements
Closed off from the light
Secure, but empty
Deficient of sight

Another name for houses
Plastered walls that separate
Window shades drawn down
Inside, restless souls
With lonely faces frown

Reminds me of coffins
For carcasses
Breathless men without strife
Filled mahogany boxed
Devoid of life

Much prefer meadows
Open, spacious, clear blue skies
Sunshine, flowers, bumble bees
And no boxes or walls
To stifle the breeze

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  1. It’s very easy to get boxed into your own world, so busy with things you have to do that you never take time to step outside. Great sentiment!

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