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The Red Wheel Barrow

When I make life complicated, it becomes more complicated and entangled. I felt rushed this afternoon. I have class, I needed to finish two papers, and wanted to do some reading. I took a deep breath and it got simpler. I uncomplicated my day by letting go a bit and seeing what was important right in front of me.

When I step back a bit and let life find its path, it becomes much simpler. This does not deny life’s complexity, but complexity and complicated are different. The first looks for patterns and the other ties knots around and among things. Complexity is in many ways reflected in the mirror of a simple life and what it reveals. Sometimes it is the obvious things that are right there in front of me only waiting to be acknowledged like a red wheel barrow.

In a few words, William Carlos Williams brings to life the simplicity in life which helps me wend my way through the complex relationships and patterns.

so much depends


a red wheel


glazed with rain


beside the white



About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and taught for 15 years in a wonderful hybrid school. My dissertation topic and research were how certain teachers experience becoming who teachers. In teaching and leanring, I am a boundary-crosser who understands moving ahead is a leap of faith. Teaching is a calling and vocation to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what calls me next. I am an educator, phenomenologist, scholar, boundary-crosser, published poet, author, parent, grandparent, and spouse.

15 responses »

  1. I wish I could become better adept at channeling the Williams’ red wheel barrow when my educational day grows too hectic, which is every day these days…

    • It takes work Michael. I just take a deep breath or take three ordinary breaths and it seems to anchor. The three breaths is a variation on a practice at Plum Village where Thich Nhat Hanh lives. 3 or 4 times a day a bell rings and people pause wherever they are and take three breaths. Without a bell, choose a common event i.e. answering the phone. It works to get started.

  2. Take it easy Ivon.

  3. So true, Ivon… Oh, for a red wheel barrow, rain, and chickens…

    I’m actually having one of those days today – slow and easy… feels good… Hope I can remember how good – like a red wheel barrow.

  4. I appreciate this post Ivon – I think many of us tend to complicate our path. Somehow the imagery is both comforting and helpful..

  5. I remember sharing this poem with my students many times over the years and making up writing tasks based on it.

    • I think it would be one of those poems that students would see the ease with which we can find something to write about. So often, they would tell me they did not know what to write about and I regret not using this poem as a model.

  6. Simplicity is a good strategy for life.


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