During the month of January 2011 I took part in a writing project called AROS, which I came across on Twitter. It was fun and was good writing discipline.
Perhaps you’d like to try it too – it’s not too late.
When I first saw the word attached to a # (hashtag), I thought it referred to the Scots Gaelic word ‘aros’ which means ‘house’ and I was intrigued enough to investigate on that basis alone.
However, it turned out that AROS stands for A River Of Stones. It was an international project started by Fiona Robyn & her fiancé, Kaspa to encourage people to engage with the world through writing a short observational piece every day during January.
The challenge was to pay attention to one thing every day during the month of January and write it down. These pieces of writing were small stones. Fiona and Kaspa said that ‘a small stone is a polished moment of paying proper attention.’
The project was aimed at both ‘writers’ and ‘non-writers’ taking part – it wasn’t about the finished product, it was about the process.
I was sometimes surprised by the thoughts that surfaced during these little meditations. I also decided to stick to the Twitter maximum of 140 characters – not something that was required – but it was good for me as brevity doesn’t come easy.
You can read more about the project and see lots of samples of stones at http://ariverofstones.blogspot.com
You could try it for yourself –any month. And it doesn’t have to be for publication, you could just record your stones in nice new notebook.
Below are my 31 stones:
Open the door, let out the old, admit the new, embrace change and possibility.
Intensely, incense, wood-burning smoke, lavender polish and coffee. Wraparound aromas focus and enclose the writer at her desk.
Greylags chip at the frost under a cold, weak sun, find seed potatoes – and hope.
Robin on the fence, feathers ruffled by the wind, braced himself and hung on, still happy to be here.
Snow on ice – going is tough. Brakes grate, tyres crunch, progress slow. But I will get there.
Twelfth Night – no epiphany, just quiet, soft light, contemplation of where to go now. Any way but back.
Walls of grey sleet advance up the loch. Land and sea blur in the mist. Bedraggled horses nibble the sodden, lifeless grass – January.
Slow build up. Overnight avalanche. My world became monochrome chilled. Disturbing beauty – only skeletal definition – waymarkers gone.
Ingredients thoughtfully assembled, mixed in meditation, baked golden sweet. Eaten in reverence and remembrance of what she taught me.
Metal studded straps and soft black rubber – feels good. People stare admiringly. “Love your rock-chick wellies,” they say.
Perhaps at last I can see, embrace, enjoy, rejoice, forgive. Perhaps at last it’s all right to be me.
Photograph – long gone golden-haired children. I stop, mine the memories, smile – grateful, happy and a little bit sad.
Mouse and me – eye-to-eye. Panic cowers in the dark corner. I scoop him up and set him free. Calm for now.
Friend sends a timely message. Son texts – he loves his mum. Husband calls for lunch time chat. I see that I am not alone.
Gale-driven onslaught of rain. Tidal rush surges and hurls huge, cliff-blasting waves. I batten down, This too will pass.
Pressure-washed by gale-driven rain, earth softens. Starlings and rock doves jab the grass. Snowdrop bulbs peep through.
You came into life feet first, skipped to school, strolled to college, strode to work. And still in step with life. Happy Birthday, son.
Lunch – egg laid and collected today, bright yellow grain-fed yolk and thick silky white, mashed with creamy mayo on wholemeal, home-baked bread. Eaten-mindfully. Good times.
Full moon pours white light onto the surface of the loch. It shines through a chiffon cloud and Orion stands guard in a navy blue sky.
Affirmation and kindness have been the order of today. A conversation, a meditation, a meeting and an email made all the difference.
A rare, deep sleep, a necessary dream, gave comfort and revelation.
Saturday morning, a second cup of tea, a long phone blether with my darling daughter, then a pause of quiet contemplation. Time to breathe.
On my desk – a soapstone penguin, a heart of smooth polished wood, blue glass paperweight and a notebook – meaningful, thoughtful gifts.
Outside grey, damp and cold. Sea in wind-whipped turmoil. But inside – inside me, I sense a return of equilibrium and a measure of peace.
For Auld Lang Syne – school-choir solo part in ‘My Heart’s in the Highlands’ - reciting ‘To a Mouse’ – ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ over haggis, neeps and tatties – and a lifetime of teaching your poetry and songs. Cheers, Rabbie.
Sun tries hard to break through, grey lurks on the ridge and at the horizon. But, at last, there’s more light than dark.
Shona, fiery, red-haired beauty, formidable matriarch. You command respect my magnificent highland heifer.
A clear day. Early sun, orange orb over Ben Tianavaig with pale, crescent moon in the west. Universe goes on regardless.
Five little girls watch me at my desk. Sunday best and monochrome smiles. In those faces, I imagine I can see spectral foretraces of what was to come – for me and my sisters.
Sunday bliss – Golden, oven warm cookies – apricots, sultanas and oats, dipped in Taylor’s Rich Italian Blend coffee.
January – a journey of moments that has not been about the destination.