Zuihitsu

Recently, I find myself turning to the Japanese poetic form zuithitsu. It’s hard to define zuithitsu; some say it is comparable to the lyric essay, others a list poem, and others call it chaotic, fragmented, un-definable.

Which is exactly why it resonates with me right now. I find myself more at home in fragmentation than a moment of clarity. Zuithitsu provides a soft landing, where I one can mourn the loss of one’s mother and contemplate what to buy for dinner. Zuithitsu says, this is what happened; this is what is happening—all of it.

And—which is exactly what I haven’t done. I have not made space for past and present, joy and sorrow. I have wanted to erase past trauma and only feel and think love, forgiveness, joy. We all know that didn’t work! How does that saying go? What you resist, persists? Yep…

But neither is it healthy to stay stuck in the past…

How do we hold all these contradictions? The past and present? The joy and sorrow? The terror and the faith? By making space for all of it. By opening up lines of communication with ourselves, and listening, and offering ourselves wise council and love and lots of compassion. By understanding that life is chaotic and fragmented, unfair at times, confusing, and also full of beauty and laughter and moments of bliss.

Poet Ching-In Chen writes in their zuihitsu poem, “Queer Poetry: a zuithsu, I have never met anyone who looked like me,” I am obsessed with the zuihitsu…because it is messy, chaotic, contradictory, it is a form I frequently return to, especially when I do not always know what and how to say. It is a form which maps and contains my fear.

The more space I give myself in my writing and thinking, in my relationships and on the yoga mat to explore with compassion all that is—however mundane or profound, dark or joyful—I lessen the fear or hopelessness. I become more curious and gentle. I become more accepting of life’s ups and downs and my own internal ups and downs.

And I work to find healthy ways to make space for all of it. Gratitude. Loving relationships. Nourishing food and long walks. And zuihitsu. Check out the work of Tina Chang and Kimiko Hahn and Chin-In Chen. And maybe try writing some zuihitsu yourself…

Published by Musings

Certified Life Coach Certified Nutritionist Certified Yoga Instructor Certified Naturopath

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