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Home School Thoughts for All of Us

  • Kim Stafford, associate professor and founding director of the Northwest Writing Institute, is Oregon’s ninth poet laureate. “Since the virus sent us home, I’ve been waking each morning feeling called to speak to our predicament with a poem,” he says. His series of pandemic poems was recently featured in the Oregonian. Stafford, who has taught at Lewis & Clark for 40 years, will be retiring at the close of the spring semester. To read more of his poems, visit www.kimstaffordpoet.com or follow #kimstaffordpoetry on Instagram.

    Robert Reynolds

In the pandemic, what should we all be learning?

Self reliance
How to cook a meal. How to clean a house, a porch, a yard. 
How to plant a garden. How to use tools. How to fix
broken things: sew a button, mend a hole, do laundry,
wash dishes like a pro.  

Buoyancy
How to be sad and get over it. How to find the music
that restores you. How to walk so your troubles fall from 
your shoulders. How to write your troubles to make them 
visible, then manageable, then smaller, and finally funny.  

Friendship
How to know a true friend. How to let go old friends 
who make you feel bad about yourself. How to give 
generously to a friend by listening, asking, wondering.
How to feed a friendship so it roots, deepens, grows.  

Thought
How to think something through. How to question
your fears, interrogate them, talk back to them. How to remember
something so precious you are less afraid. How to make clear
what most calls to you, what you love, what you will do to sustain it.  

Dreams
How to have a dream toward a life worth planning for, saving for, 
working for. How to design ways to make steady progress toward 
a worthy goal. How to identify a dream that is so important, you will 
let go lesser things to achieve it.  

Thrift
How to know what you need. How to pare away
what you don’t need—objects, habits, false wishes,
propaganda coming at you that is foreign to who you are—
so you can give energy to what you really want.  

Love
How does it feel in your body when love is real—love for a person,
for a place, for a feeling about who you really are, a longing for 
what you most want to do with this life? This is your compass, 
your inner landmark, your truth principle. Only you can know.  

Maintenance
Health. Rest. Calm. Breath. Patience. Affection. Humor. Active hope.

Copyright 2020 Kim Stafford.

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