It's 11:00 a.m., and I am sitting in my office watching the snow slowly turn the Box Elders into an Ansel Adams photo. The visual noise usually emitted by the billion things in the backyard are hushed by the slow coating of the presence of all colors as one. Winter in Minnesota. After 19 years, it still doesn't get old, while my joints increasingly show me the difference between us.
Holidays have a tendency to make us stop and look both forward and back, allowing us to assess our place and how it differs from what it took to get us here and where in the hell we might be headed. We're a little heavier than we realized, perhaps, or maybe there are a few more lines around the eyes. Maybe your interests have changed. When did you stop really caring about what that band is doing? I used to go to readings. When did that stop? When did I start caring about that status report at work, that place I swore would never get all of me? For me, it all comes in cycles, seasonlike, when we toggle between head down in the trenches and then up again to view the landscape when the time is right.
It is the day before Thanksgiving, and I sit here and try to be grateful for it all, because that's what it took to get me here. Pain, pleasure, hope, despair. It is all part of the whole. Right now, I'm enjoying some peace and calm. Later, that will not be the case. I will take each part as it comes, as we all do. Let us just accept it as a part and not try to avoid the challenging parts ("When going through hell, don't stop." ~ Winston Churchill). Winter always feels like work time to me, when the flourish of summer is removed and put away, and stark practicality takes the fore. For all of this, I will try to remain conscious of the fact that I am fortunate. I am alive.
We shall see how long I can retain this perspective. It is the day before Thanksgiving, and I work closing shift at a popular grocery store. My mantra? Don't stop.
Some music for the beauty outside. Enjoy.
Saturday, November 1, 2014
In the predawn hours I watch the sky, the small distant suns, of Orion and Canis Major shining above the southern horizon. I can easily imagine a planet among them on the surface of which someone is standing alone in a clearing trying to teach himself to whistle.
- from River Notes by Barry Lopez
I don't know the names of the constellations, but can picture swords and their heroes, helmets and victory as clearly as I know my son will dream them. I'm at the river again. To the right the Mississippi and the Minnesota combine their strength and move forward past me. The current is hypnotic, the lapping waves a reminder of change. To the left it curves to the right and disappears. It is a place to come where no one cares what I sound like. I practice curling my lips and tongue, trying to convince the body I already know how. To make a noise, soft but true, one day becoming music, is the point of it all. If I am getting closer it is because I have learned the important thing - that I am to learn it. Children understand. Takes longer for some of us.
I looked up this morning and saw the last of the night fade into dawn. A poem ran through my head then out and into the woods. And on that star, I thought, someone is whistling a beautiful song, and the people who hear it are smiling.