Welcome to Quiet Moments, my on-going daily haiku project. Here's how it came about, and indeed what it is all about.

I must confess I'm not really one for making resolutions at New Year, for if you are familiar with all the unusual and special days in our calendar, you are never really that far away from a suitable date for a symbolic new beginning. However this year was a little different. In November 2022, I was diagnosed with lung cancer, and the new year found me recovering from the removal of one tumour, along with two thirds of one lung, and with courses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy ahead of me in the coming months.

Now my policy to having lung cancer has largely been to ignore it and carry on regardless, and to try to stay as positive as possible. After all, it is widely acknowledged that if one is stressed, worried or anxious, it will have a detrimental effect on your physical health. Therefore I decided that I should set aside a little time every day to relax and try and quiet the usual mental chatter. Now the secret of stilling the usual stream of thoughts and inner chit-chat is to focus on a simple task, and hence I hit upon the idea of taking time out every day to write a haiku every day.

There are many other places that can explain the ancient Japanese poetic form of haiku better than I ever could. However the basic rules are as follows - the poem is to be three lines long, with each line having a set number of syllables. The first five, the second seven, and the third five again. As for content, traditionally haiku focuses on a single image and will use a seasonal word. It's a very simple poetic form, but its extreme brevity means one must choose every word carefully. And so, writing a haiku is often very meditative - or at least it is for me - attempting to focus on one single moment and crystalize into verse. And for me personally, I feel that a good haiku should not only capture an image or a moment, but also there should be an element of transformation - that is to say that the lines ideally should make you think about its subject in a different way, to see an aspect of the world in a different light.

However, when I decided I would not only write a haiku every day, but also post it online, I felt there ought to be a visual element too. And as haiku is centred on a single image, the concept of using a different photograph I had taken to pair with the day's verse was a logical one. And so, while out and about, often when walking our little dog, I began keeping an eye out for things to snap. And this in itself has become another little opportunity for stilling the usual interior babble, for taking a decent photo is very easy with modern cameras, but finding what will make a good picture is somewhat trickier. It requires, I find at least, a certain frame of mind where one pays more attention to the world around you, looking for little moments of wonder or beauty to capture.

But thanks to my on-going medical condition, it's not always possible to get out every day, and so on the days when I have been short of an image, so I have used photos that I have taken in the past. However, I do have an additional little rule here - any old photos must have been taken at exactly the same time of year, thus preserving the seasonal flow of the haiku sequence. Again this has proved to be another relaxing exercise - I'm sure like me you have dozen of photos langusihing in folders and on hard drives, so it has been quite pleasant to take regular trips down Memory Lane, and be reminded of past times.

So then, that's the story behind what I have called Quiet Moments. Below you can jump in at any given month and pick a day to start exploring...

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