Writing a Haiku Every Day Changed My Life

Pressed flower in book of poems
Pressed flower in book of poems

It started how most things I do start, as an accident and a promise to no one other than myself. I have always set challenges for myself before the reasons for them ever came to light, often for no other purpose than the challenge itself. Over six years ago, sitting on an airplane home from visiting family in Florida, I wrote the first of what would become thousands of haiku. I wrote it about the burden it must be to love me, and fitting that story into seventeen syllables, three short lines, felt like relief, and it felt like release.

Over a year ago now, my first book, Chasers of the Light, found its way into the world and in it were the random ramblings of my busy mind. I mentioned back then that writing has always been a pressure release for me, a way to quiet the sounds I never understood what to do with. Oddly, writing has also been a way for me to add even more noise to the clutter in my brain, add even more thoughts where I was sure no more fit. When I began this journey of trying to write an original haiku, every single day, I never intended on making it this far; I never intended on keeping that promise to myself.

Traditionally speaking, haikus follow a general set of rules. The most common of these are the syllables, 17 syllables spread across three lines, five in the first, seven in the second and five again to finish the poem. For the purists, these poems include a reference to nature or seasons, and include a "turn" of sorts on the final line. When I began this, I wanted to explore what I felt was the most natural force on the planet, love. I wanted to use haiku, and the daily creation of them, as a way to pay closer attention to what I believe to be the most dominant and vital element we have. Doing this for a month was a challenge, to come up with something new each day. Doing it for half a year was even more difficult... doing it for over six years is something I could have never imagined, and the effect it's had on me is the biggest surprise of all. In short, it changed my life, and it changed absolutely everything about the way I see the world.

I will risk the critics here, I will risk the naysayers and those who see nothing but cheese and rose-colored optimism; I will risk the "Hallmark card" finger-pointing when I say that doing this, every single day, has made me see love absolutely everywhere. When you spend this much time looking for something, you start finding it. Once you start finding it, you start finding it everywhere, manifested in a million different ways. I am thankful now, over six years in, that it was love I set out to explore.

This little book, my second offering to the world of poetry, is a small collection that hints at a much larger whole. It is glimpses in, around and through the tiny moments of love, the unseen or forgotten, the passed over and the simple. Love, I have come to learn, is the millions of tiny moments shared between people, and it is so much bigger than I ever understood.

poem

Tyler Knott Gregson is a poet and professional photographer who lives in the mountains of Helena, Montana. His first collection of poems, Chasers of the Light, was a national bestseller. His new book, All the Words Are Yours: Haiku on Love, came out October 20, 2015 from Perigee/Penguin Random House.