I envy people who have enough money to travel for a good ginko but sadly I am not one of them. A ginko is a very useful thing. There is a reason that non-haiku writers take a walk when they are blocked. That pop of inspiration we seek is available to anyone who can get into that delightful, trancey state that comes when we walk on our own. A good ginko is about getting out there and letting your mind interact with nature.
Now, I live in a town. I don’t own a car. I can’t out into the country and enjoy nature as most people understand it. The thing is though, we can never ever leave nature, we only think we do. Nature is everything. It is the trees outside your house, the cars and buildings in your street or the stack of books on your shelf. Everything we have comes from the earth and the rest of the universe around it, just some of it is a little more removed from its origins. Every town has some kind of green space you can go to and things live there. They might not be the exciting animals that get all the big headlines, but it is a worthwhile thing getting to know them and they are an endless source of inspiration.
Haiku is essentially nature poetry and it originated in a country that practices an Animist religion, Shintoism. Animism itself encourages intense engagement with everything around us. The influence of Animism on haiku and its love and respect for the world are one of the truly great things about this form of poetry. Although we should move away from the Japanese model, it would be a shame to lose this aspect entirely. Loving the world around us so wholeheartedly allows us to see God in the raindrops, love in the curve of fern fronds. It permits us to see existence as a web of metaphors, all inter-relating with each other.
Animism also encourages investment in the slice of nature that we live in. So a while ago, I decided to concentrate on becoming intimately familiar with my local environment. There is a delightful walking track in my neighbourhood. This is a place I can go and get some solitude and what I like to call “tree time”. Over the last couple of years I have got to know it so well and it has shown me things that are invaluable in my writing. When I first started walking there, there was a male bowerbird tending a bower near the track. I watched him court the females and got ideas for romantic haiku. There are a couple of places where butterflies do nuptial dances on mass which is an astonishing sight. There are so many photo opportunities for making haiga. These places unfold for you if you have the patience to visit repeatedly. The other day I watched a small copper butterfly rest on the path before me for a full five minutes before flying off. I became so engrossed in the beautiful blue shading on its wings. Even if I don’t get a haiku on every one of these walks, I come home refreshed and sharper for it. Maybe you can find somewhere to love around you that might inspire you, which you could take up as your place to ginko?