My Fingers Still Dance | 8.15.21

The Sunday Edition

So many years I’ve been doing this now, so many years of counting syllables in my mind, on my fingertips, so many years of waking and thinking of seventeen little syllables to tell a story. I’ve tried to describe a love, I’ve tried to speak of ache, of autism, of longing, sorrow, of death. I’ve used haiku to describe the changing of the seasons, the changing of my soul, the growth, the light I’ve been chasing, the dark I long for. Travel, stillness, joy, pain, seventeen syllables to speak about so many different things, and I am astounded that I’m still going, that I’ve never yet missed a day.

The answer to a question I get asked over and over is a simple one, and so I will answer it here in case you too have wondered: Yes, my fingers still count out the syllables, even though in truth my brain thinks in them now. After all this time, I think it has a knack of just knowing how many syllables each sentence I say has, but despite this, my fingers still dance. I catch myself from time to time doing this even when I’m not writing, catch myself tap dancing my phalanges on the surface of my leg, the top of a table, even the air outside a car window when others are speaking, measuring out the words others say and making them into haiku too. Part of this is my autism, as I’ve always done this with my hands, played invisible pianos to make sense of the world around me, to balance the motion in my mind with motion in my fingertips, and part of this is an inherent and unflinching belief that so often the things we all say are poetry, if only given the chance to be remembered. We are poetry, the lot of us, and dammit I want to show you that.

That’s what this is, that’s what this has always been, this obsession of posting a haiku a day for well over a decade now. Some future day in February of 2023, I will reach 5,000 days in a row of writing, posting, sharing a tiny little poem, seventeen syllables, and I hope on that day everyone realizes that this has always been about showing you all that life is poetry, if we only stop to look close enough. Life is poetry, love is poetry, death is poetry, hope, fear, hatred, sex, intimacy, it’s all poetry if only we give our attention, our care over to it long enough to immortalize it.

I urge you, all of you beautiful souls reading this, I urge you to find some tiny bit of art you can practice every day, and I urge you to practice it. If you cannot find one, start with haiku, it’s 17 syllables, and I think we can all spare that. Vonnegut once said, “To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.”

So, my friends. Do it. Here’s to seventeen syllables, here’s to your eyes reading them. Here’s to so many stories told in so few letters. Here’s to art. Here’s to life.

My fingers still dance

counting seven syllables

sandwiched between five.

Haiku on Life by Tyler Knott Gregson

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