And When He Arrives, He'd Better Bring Queso

I'm back, I'm pregnant, and I'm hungry.

It's been almost seven months since I clicked out a single word here, which has probably been either a tropical island of coconut-scented bliss for you or an ocean of nothingness, which is mostly what it's been for me.  It isn't that these many months have been empty, only that the feeling of floundry nothingness is how I've felt toward the Blog bookmark on my Safari toolbar.

Not floundering, but floundry, like the fish: clammy and undesirable.  Don't touch it. 

In fact, quite a bit has happened.

C and I tap danced through another fabulous summer of camp,

made an amazing escape to the desert of southwest America,

got ourselves pregnant,

Wait, wait, wait.  
(no source link folks, but this beaut' belongs to the interweb -  I only wish it were mine)

That's better.

took a dinner cruise,

and I rode a camel named Luke.

It was a full season.  And now, with snow and sub-zero temps alternating punches, we venture into the icy boxing ring of winter, bobbing and weaving, whilst I awkwardly balance a belly that is gradually causing me to not only look like the letter p, but to also, well, have to.

Some people have children because it makes them happy.  Ideally, all people have kids because it gives them joy, which despite my general snarkiness, I genuinely believe to be a significantly different thing.  What I mean by the first statement is that some people have childhood dreams and aspirations of parenthood, of someday bringing life into the world: a tiny swaddled person wafting of that sweet smell of babydom (not the liquid poop, the other one).  Having kids can satisfy these feelings, hence happiness.

Most of you already know this, but I wasn't that kid. We weren't that couple.  I didn't grow up dreaming of motherhood, and in fact, the idea kind of made me squeamish, and at least half-terrified (still does).  It's not that I dislike infants or children or families or am some kind of angry grinch, but I've just never felt that... maternal.  Along with that, C and I as a couple had become pretty set in the idea that we'd invest in the human race in other ways.  For example, I love getting to work with college students and post-grads.  It gives me joy.  It's my jam.  So I think it surprised us both a bit when we came to the decision that, despite the fact that our emotional makeup toward the idea felt quite like a dry, lifeless paper cup, we would set ourselves to embark on this one-way trip to the Other Side.

It's been a strange process, mentally switching gears from being genuinely really satisfied as a twosome, to being genuinely really satisfied as a twosome, only we're about to become three.  We are trying to create room for the emotions that we can't yet understand for this person that is making himself increasingly known with every roll and roundhouse.  It feels a shade like treason to my former self to admit it, but I've truly enjoyed being pregnant.  So far things haven't been bad:  not too much back pain, no excessive gas ( I think - you tell me), or insane cravings.  It helps that we're 90 miles from the nearest crab rangoon, which, if you felt like bringing me sometime, would be totally ok, and might earn you a middle name or fairy godmother status via our son.  It's been a fascinating process,  to mentally know, then physically feel that life is getting ready to burst (don't remind me) forth from life.  Crazy, really.

So as I adjust to our Olympic vaulter catapulting himself off of my bladder, I think I'm also adjusting to the idea that in a few short months, there will be something other than the cat flailing around on the living room floor.  All in all, I suppose I'm actually looking forward to it.

Kiwi the Cat is not, unless he will be accompanied by snacks.  Which really, would be ok with me, too.


Forgive Me, My Ugly Is Showing

It’s that special time of year for us during which all sorts of things decide to simultaneously coil up like a rattler in strike and free themselves upon us with the spit and vigor of a cat who’s tail is stuck in a sliding door. 

AKA, it’s about to get crazy up in here.

There have been moments in my past when I have felt like Luke Skywalker standing in the garbage compactor of the Death Star.  The walls are about to close in, I’m surrounded by foulness and trash, and two of my friends have the bright idea of holding off the impending squish with a giant metal toothpick (the other is screaming and banging on the walls), all of which have almost made me forget about that mammoth water snake that is working to suffocate me with its alligator death-roll.

My friend Christi, having her own Star Wars moment with the Hobart.

Sometimes life feels like this.  Can I get an Amen?

To be fair, though Crazy Town is just around the bend, we have not pulled into the station, so what really puts all of this on my mind is that I can name four or five friends or co-workers who, at this very moment, are in the middle of a trash-compactor life phase.  So, I’m feeling for them a little bit. 

Something I realized last September, in the wake of a one-month work bender, is that, well, some people work all the time,




I can’t say whether it’s a choice (the latest UltraTinyBook is always calling) or a necessity, but there are some poor souls out their whom, either to make ends meet or to buy another cat (did I say that?), work 80+ hour work weeks, every week.  Others do it because they are pinned down by deadlines, or because their work defines their person.  I am not judging.  I understand some of these reasons first-hand. 

However, the last time I had a phase like this, to put it simply: I became an awful person.  It happened quicker than I’d thought, and far more easily than I had ever hoped.  The pressure built, sleep became a dream, and sitting down for a meal was a maniacal notion.  And was I ever miserable to be around.  If I wasn’t working, I was somehow trying to explain how hard I was working.  If I wasn’t running from place to place, I was showing you the worn tread on my shoes.  If I wasn’t plunging a toilet, I was giving you the minute-by-minute, poopy details of the one I just left. 

More than a quiet meal, more than a relaxing afternoon, more than sleep, I wanted one thing:


If I was going to work this hard and this tirelessly, I wanted someone everyone to notice.  And comment.  And give me the sad eyes and the kind words.  I wanted to be recognized for laying down over the tracks. 

This is not to say that the folks I referred to earlier, the ones who are struggling underwater in a sea of work, are exhibiting the same nasty traits I did last year.  They actually aren’t, which is what has made me think so much on this lately.  They are working, in their exhaustion, with grace and kindness, and even the sweet seasoning of humor.  But I was not so good.  In fact, I was very, very bad. 

Yes, during those busy days I needed a nap, and probably a snack, too.  But I also needed to remember to mentally back-the-heck-up and recall that my circumstances should not dictate my behavior; that when the going gets tough, the tough get counseling, or whatever the phrase is.  I needed to remember that I am still the master of my own mind and words and actions, and that just because I feel like taking a five-minute break to punch holes in a wall doesn’t mean that I won’t get cut.  And it surely means that someone else will, too. 

See, we live in community.  It’s unavoidable.  Even if you are single and live alone, what you do impacts others.  It impacts your parents.  It impacts the fellow at the checkout counter at the gas station.  And this is more so if you are married, have a family, or live in a dormitory or perhaps the stray commune village.  Other people are undeniably part of your and my life.  How I choose to walk through valleys will radiate to my co-workers and the people we serve here on The Compound.  If I think that my attitude is solely an internal organ, I have been taken for a ride, and sooner or later, someone is going to come along and correct me.  Or equally likely, some innocent small child is going to walk up, gaze at me with Bambi eyes, and ask me why I look like I want to hurt everyone in the room.

Work is hard.  Sometimes it’s just plain miserable.  But, if you are fortunate enough to have a job that you care about, or if you care about your job, there are high points in the mix: shimmery moments of glory and joy.  Remember those moments.  Remember who you are in those moments.

I want that.  Most importantly, I want to remember the person I am in those beautiful, energized interactions so that when I come crashing down and find myself standing in the terrible trash-compactors of life, I will know that just because my circumstances smell like garbage and look like a water dragon from the deep, it doesn’t mean that I need to go for a swim. 

Be honest about your feelings, but don’t drown in them.  Credit feels good, but living well feels so much better.


Viequation: A Story of Sand, Surf and Spanish Charades

Planes, trains and automobiles: three flights, one taxi, one ferry and a ride with some locals.  Finally, we arrive at the Casita.

Little house.  Big view.

It's dark by the time we arrive, so there will be no view tonight, aside from the twinkling of stars, street lights and incandescent bulbs gleaming from the kitchens and bedroom windows down the mountainside.  The audio is rich - women singing in spanish, guitars being strummed, the first Star Wars movie (excuse me, fourth) wrapping up off in the distance.  

It's dark, but what our ears see is vast. 

Also, there is no electricity here, so we clamber around with flashlight and headlamp, putting together a dinner of what the previous guests thoughtfully left behind this morning: soft sweet rolls, peanut butter, Nutella, bottled water.  It is heavenly.  We sleep in the open air, under the delicate mosquito net that is tucked in around our mattress, which is thin, but comfortable.  The bed platform hangs securely in the air, held by thick ropes that are attached to the ceiling by eye hooks.  Sleep comes quickly.

In the morning, we awake to the most fabulous dream: roosters are crowing, sunlight is shining through the dry morning air, and green living things are everywhere, including the lizards that will share the cabin with us this week.

After another ride from Beverly, one of our new neighborhood friends, we have picked up our rented Vitrano (everyone drives a Suzuki here, or a horse).  I completed the rental by handing my credit card to a man I didn't know in a small wooden building which held two printers (one on the floor), a MacBook Pro and the man.  Is it a good idea?  The parrots in the yard scream their objections.

We shop at the local grocer and buy mangoes at a fruit stand down the road, all the while I'm doing jiggly-armed charades in order to avoid employing my sad, donde-esta-el-bano spanish.

Vieques is a beautiful island, of course, but what is most astonishing are the number of beaches that one (with said 4X4) can access.  Each beach is slightly different from the next, like a line of fraternal landscapes.  One has black, magnetic sand, while another has cabanas made from enormous palm fronds, and the next has a maze-like coral reef, while the southeastern side has crashing waves and a public shower.  

Our favorite spot.

We spend the next four days dreamily meandering from beach to beach, miraculously finding our way back to the Casita each night at dusk, a place that upon arrival the first night, I swore we were never, ever going to be able to find again: on a mountainside, down a Z-shaped dirt road, beyond the single lane winding stretch of patchy pavement, surrounded by defunct boats, trucks and hungry, wild dogs.  

We would die before finding that cabin.  I swore it.  

C unfortunately dislikes sand and the sun, which could make one baffled that the trip was his idea, but let's face it - he loves me maniacally, and shows it by scratching my back most every night, planning beach vacations and watching the cat videos I find online.  

(hushed) Thank You.

As it would happen, apart from the food of the gods (sugary carbohydrates and Skippy), the previous guests had left behind a beacon of hope for my fair-skinned fellow: a large beach umbrella with a youthful ocean motif.  

Game on.

It was a divine vacation.  We drank instant Nescafe, read books (Steinbeck's East of Eden & Rushdie's The Satanic Verses), and people-watched as though we were secret agents.  When we looked out on the surf and saw "that crazy european couple" crashing through waves in the nude, we just chuckled and got back to snarfing down tortilla chips and dripping salsa on our book pages.  We played crazy nines, swam in turquoise waters, ate a copious amount of fruit, held staring contests with sand crabs, and counted tiny dogs.  

And we swerved to miss the wild horses.  


Horses on the beach;  Horses in the streets; Horses on the roadsides and horses devouring every kind of living plant outside the cabin.  At 3 o'clock.  In the morning.  One of these fellows had a little white bird who seemed to travel everywhere with him, riding bareback, just like an image from National Geographic or an Outback Steakhouse commercial. 

We kept ourselves unbusy, collecting green coconuts at the beach and hacking the tops off when we came home at night, drinking the room-temperature water inside like desperate characters from Lost or brave contestants on Survivor: Dreamy Desert Island.  

Mercifully, my only real bug encounter during our tropical expedition were sand midges at the beach (no-see-ums to us from the North), a large, dead cockroach at a public bathroom (a prime reason why I relieve myself in the forest in nearly all cases - living things die in public bathrooms), and a spider the side of my hand, perched perfectly above the entry to our Casita bathroom, which I found with my headlamp in the middle of our last night there.  No, I did not scream.  Yes, I did pee my pants, but I'll have you know that the timing and location worked miraculously in my favor.  Phew.

The Casita, and for that matter, the entire trip to Vieques was special - ironically - not for what it had, but rather for what it did not have:  no electricity, no phones, no Facebook, no work, no alarms, no deadlines, and no snow.  Because it lacked these things, we could more easily see what we intrinsically had:  peace, freedom, connection, patience, light, and something to wake up for.  We possessed these things before we left home and we have them still, after our return, but there is something so refreshing when you rediscover that what you've been given is truly so deep, so overwhelmingly full, and so hilariously good. 

Thank you, Vieques.  Thank you, little Casita.  Thank you, God.  

And thank you to that questionable car rental man, who has refrained from riding off on a wild horse, with my identity in one saddlebag and my credit score in the other.  Thank you.


Under Every Great Accomplishment Lies A Wasted Distraction

Here are a few photos to help you get through hump-day.  

Since a friend spotted this at an area surplus store, I'm assuming that there's a marketable crowd out there who really enjoys getting behind a boat, carving a great wake, and doing 360s in the sun.  

People who like to, you know, waterboard.  

If you spend your summer months waterboarding all day, every day, you're probably pretty tired at night.  When you're tired at night after that kind of activity, chances are you have some strange dreams.  When you have a strange dream after that kind of day, I bet it basically looks like this:

because I know that in all of my dreams, I'm the Pied Piper of cats, hiking through a kelp forest with slices of spiral ham strewn across the grass.  Oh, and it's not grass.  It's asphalt.  

And I'm wearing an army helmet.

Last, but not least, if you spend your days waterboarding until you're exhausted and your nights dreaming about leading a million-cat march through Gotham, chances are you'd be just the type to keep one of these out back for those humid evenings in August:

Good gravy.  Does anyone else feel awkward looking at this, or is it just me?

Because sometimes, when I think something's awkward, it really is just me.


Press on, friends.  Thursday is right around the bend.



Two things.

1)  I've picked an unfortunate time to both a) grow my hair out a little, a la mullet and b) grow out my eyebrows.

2)  If I ever - for any reason - receive hate mail, I hope I have the sense to do what this girl did.

I hope you have a nice night.  I'm going to go stare remorsefully into a hand mirror.


Winter Is Ever In Her Spring, And I Shall Flail Away Like An Inflatable Man

I've been reading through a collection of Henry David Thoreau's short works, a volume that includes A Winter's Walk, Reform and the Reformers, Walden, Walking, Ktaadn, and Life without Principle, among a number of others.  I just wrapped up Ktaadn, and - this being my first experience of it - have been captivated by his description of these northern woods that C and I live amongst.  

Though clearly part of Thoreau's shtick, I am perpetually drawn in by his manner of highlighting nature’s duality, her quiet resplendence and utter hostility: that she will both warmly invite us into her bosom and yet, on some other occasion and for no apparent reason, will attempt to quite literally eat us alive.   Could it be that we twist our ankle on a tree root because we unconsciously crushed a trillium or that we glimpse a wild porcupine because we recently planted a Douglas fir?  That would be pure and utter superstition.  Right?  I acknowledge that this tactic of personifying the earth’s sweet and ugly side should get old, or familiar, or at least lose some of its power, but alas, I'm a sucker for it.  It's my siren's song, and I can't stay away.

My sister, R, on the pond

The Great Thaw has begun in the forest.  I am not saying that warm temperatures and melting snow will be a normative feature of our approaching weeks, only that the psychotic swing of temperatures has begun to dip into a reasonable, life-giving range, and that I believe (likely a foolish decision) we will begin to see a slow stepping-down of the stern winter rule, and that Lady Spring will draw up her gown and begin her slow, mesmerizing walk into the spotlight.  Meanwhile I’ll be doing the used-car lot-inflatable-man dance every time I walk to the dumpster.  And falling on my can.  Frequently.

It all makes you wonder, are we intended to live in such places?  At this point, the question is moot, of course, but still… do you ever think it?  And not only here, but even further north?  Because – NEWSFLASH – people are living up there.  And they are not just surviving, but building cities.  They are dragging toboggans on the sidewalks and cooking crepes.  It’s magical, so much so that I suspect it is very well another dimension altogether, and not just Canada.  That would be boring.

A few weeks ago, my sister, R, drove her little 5-speed northward, past the river, through the woods, and yes, even up our icy 3-mile driveway to stay (and play) with us for a week.  She got to experience so many things that we habitually take for granted: pure stillness, first tracks through the snow, snowmobiling on the pond, broken plumbing, washing ladles with the Hobart (which is also known as being washed by the Hobart), and again, stillness, because anything that good deserves a second mention.  A highlight of her visit was an overnight trip we took to Canada. 

Folks, our northern friends know how to live.  They don’t plow the snow off of walkways.  Instead, they offer to rent you a sled, because being dragged across the snow is far more fun than a simple walk in the cold.  They have civic events that revolve around ice and shivering.  They preserve spaces in which to explore the winter world, and they facilitate its good use.  They somehow manage to house bees on their rooftops in February and in an act of heavenly goodness, use menthol in their steam rooms, a thing you should consider for your own, assuming it is not an imaginary steam room, like mine is (it's very large, if you were wondering).  They also make entire bodysuits out of fishnet, which seems rather hazardous considering the nasty weather, but that slides because everything else seems so cool.

And so the drive of man is relentless.  He finds a manner in which to survive the biting cold and rash, unforgiving weather.  In the most unlikely of circumstances, he discovers how to mess about in the snow, enjoying the winter conditions in the same way that a small child goes bananas at the threshold of a playground. 

So as the sap races from the sugar maples and memories of subzero temperatures fade into the recesses of my mind, I look forward to the gentle whispers of spring. She has not arrived, but is arriving all the same.  And I shall wave my arms like a used-car lot-inflatable man to beckon her forth.  And she will come.  

And soon after, I imagine, she will spin on her heels and leave.  But that is how such things go, I suppose.


Secret Tunnels in A Judgement-Free Season

It is with a degree of frank humility with which I confess that I am not the sort of physical specimen that I used to be.  Thirty is racing toward me like a crashing wave, and I live in the desperate hope that along with wrinkles and squeaky joints it will bring clever wisdom and lots of quirky outfits.  

If you know me, you're probably giggling a little, because in truth, I've never been much of a natural athlete.  

I spent all of 8th grade gym class alternately sporting red or blue cotton sweatpants (featuring a circa-1995 elastic waistband, prime for getting pantsed, which only happened occasionally more often than I would have liked), and a variety of Tweety Bird t-shirts three sizes too big (Tweety in rastafari cap?  check.  Tweety in Kris Kross backward denim?  kcehc.).  Every Twister mat within the county lived in paralyzing fear of my stretchy, striking ensemble.  There was no limit to my lunge. 

Just when you thought an outfit couldn't be worked, they worked it.

In 9th grade I managed to completely miss a volleyball pass, because in an effort to "get low" in proper form, I accidentally swung and hooked my clasped hands underneath my left leg.  The ball dropped at my feet, as did any chance of getting the MVP - no, any - award that season, and perhaps ever.

Every winter, we are faced with the prospect of looking so pale and fleshy that you would wonder whether we really live here in the woods or if it's actually a cover story to hide the fact that we survive in a network of gloomy, lightless tunnels below Gotham.  Though riveting adventure and the glistening prospect of exploration linger just outside our doorway, indoor dwelling seduces us via its arsenal of velvety fleece blankets, spongy couch cushions, mesmerizing works of fiction, and steaming cups of earl grey.  Upon our surrender, the extra pudge and pasty countenance take root.   

And soon, the tunnel story appears suspiciously probable to the outside world.  

Fortunately, our work is our salvation. Part of my job is to play for a living.  I mean this exactly as such - to literally play.  In the season of ice and snow, this can involve hucking adults and young children down a winding snow-tube run and sliding across an ice rink in a herculean effort to score goals stay upright.  Some people, like a certain few friends of ours, are freakishly good at playing broom ball, a northern hybrid of ice hockey and Dance Dance Revolution that we offer as an activity here on The Compound.  These crazies run along the glassy surface of ice with the grace of a leaping impala, while the rest of us plod about like appaloosas on roller skates.  It's completely disgraceful.  

But we suffer the disgrace, because we know the alternative to be worse.  Physical prowess may never by my thing and coordination may not be my calling card, but I will do my darndest to be sure that scary, subterranean eyes and a penchant for underground digging aren't either.  


She's Got An Icy Grip, That One

This winter has contained everything you can imagine: whipping winds, blizzard white-outs, sub-zero weeks, slipping and sliding, and certainly the occasional power outage.  There was a time recently when the temperature, from one Monday to the next rose a full 70 degrees.  And I can't quite remember, but I'm pretty sure that it dropped at least 50 degrees again in the next two days.  The weather has been awesome.

Beautifully terrifying.  Terrifyingly beautiful.

Terrifying as an icy river, while you sit bobbing in your kayak, taking a momentary break to float gingerly downstream, perched just so, knowing that you are always on the verge of catching an edge and embarking on an arctic triathlon (paddle, swim, mountaineer), minus the survival suit.  But beautiful.

Beautiful, like a friend described at lunch the other day, is that moment when you need to venture down from your bear stand deep in the woods. But terrifying, with the nerve-wracking knowledge of the sow and two cubs milling around somewhere beyond your eyesight.  Don't worry though, they can see you just fine.

It is standing at the altar - beautiful.  Or rather, waking up a week later in bed to the realization that you had better get used to the pulsing aroma of that particular vintage of morning breath, because it is a gift from your soulmate, offered to you, forever.  Terrifying.

These are the sort of things to which we pay pretty sweet lip service, in hindsight.  After we survive them, of course.

How cool!  
Adventure of a lifetime!  
You wouldn't believe...!
What a story!

However, in that moment of the thrill, as you float down a river at 11PM with the sound of an upcoming rapid pounding against your eardrums and a full moon illuminating the surface foam, you can't decide whether it is literally-the-coolest-thing-you-have-ever-done or if it will literally be the last thing you ever accomplish in this lifetime.

The weather is that sort of deadly mistress.  My husband was in a car accident recently, and for me, the most alarming feature of the incident was not the rolling of the vehicle (no), the speedy launch into the woods (no), or even the potential for strandedness on an what used to be an old logging road to Canada (no).

By now, you are likely questioning what kind of wife I am.  Unnerving, isn't it?

What was most terrifying to me was the -15 degree evening temperature, plus windchill.  That fact, combined with the others is what still gives me a sour feeling in my stomach when I recall the day.  Would he be able to make the one mile walk to our driveway, then the three mile hike home?  In the dark?  In the biting, snapping cold and the snow?  This is the kind of cold that wraps its icy hands around the base of your neck and threatens to squeeze out your last breath as lightning fast as falling out of a tree knocks the wind from your lungs.  It's so cold that you gasp instantly as if you were standing naked in a shower of ice cubes.  You blink often because the mucous covering your eyes tends, like every other liquid, to freeze.  Your cheeks don't sting at this point because the surface nerves have stopped functioning, and you can't zip the neck of your jacket because the dexterity in your fingers is reduced to what would be playing the piano with ten blocks of cheese tied to your hands.

Thankfully (miraculously), C arrived home unscathed, thanks to a humbling amount of timely provision (friends, emergency personnel, kind sheriff, snacks), but the occasion serves as another reminder of the awesome dual nature of our weather:

it's terror, it's beauty.

This is precisely why we love the river.

Being in nature.

Living in the woods.

Taking risks.

Why exactly? Because, simply put - we cannot control these things.  The river, nature, the woods - they exist outside of our reach, and the moment you or I think that we have them under our thumb - the second the paddler lifts that blade out of the water and relaxes her grip - these things will level us with the strength of a thousand man-made engines.

And why on earth would this be good?

Because it reminds us of the greatness of what we've already been given in relation to the smallness of what we try to please ourselves with.  It reminds us that there is a great symphony being played around us all the time, but that we are busy banging on a piano with cheese block fingers.

And it promises that we will hear that beautiful music

if only we would stop making such terrible noise.


So Leave Some Wiggle Room

My hands smell like basil.

In fact, they are so basil-y that they wreak of anise root ground with black peppercorns that have been drizzled in licorice.  If you are under the impression that basil is a gentle herb to sprinkle over your fetuccini or that it adds an aromatic sweetness to manhattan clam chowder, you only know half of the story.  Large amounts of the fresh stuff could wake an 8th grade lab student from a dissection-induced unconsciousness.  It's that powerful.  And so for the remainder of today, my hands will smell like I've spent the morning digging around in a drum of bear bait.

You see, I've been nursing three robust basil plants along since the spring.  Someone should have told me how resilient they are, because I didn't plan on them getting so big - no, wait - so unruly.  And because I simply cannot use a full cup of fresh basil leaves each day, it's come time for me to prune off the leaves, dry them out for future use in cioppinos (do yourself a favor and always double the white wine) and trash two of the plants.  It breaks my heart to cut down anything so full of life, especially when the snow drifts outside are starting to make our pond look like the Sahara, and we're beginning to see negative numbers on the outdoor thermometer.  I'm pretty sure that the basils loathe my decision, for good reason: "At least wait until after February.  By then, something bright and green could keep you from digging a hole in the ice and throwing yourself in.  You won't survive without us.  You'll see."

But alas, I am as heartless as a Jersey mobster, and today the plants must die.

There comes a time for things to pass on.  We say goodbye to one so that we can welcome another.  In fact, you can read about Bob Goff, a [very important and fairly unconventional] guy who, every Thursday of every week of every month, quits something.  Folks, that's a lot of quits.  But because of those slots that he has made empty, Bob has room to invite new things and people into his life, and is enabled to fill holes in the lives of others.  He is transforming.  He is letting some structured things go so that he has room to wiggle in unstructuredness.

I'm not necessarily advising you to stop going to the gym, to quit calling your mother, or to kiss brushing your teeth goodbye (seriously, please keep doing this), but am challenging myself to think hard about life and what it means to live well, which is, I suppose, a question for the ages.

Logic tells us that because we say yes to some things, we cannot say yes to everything.  So why don't we stop trying to say yes to it all, because if we keep that up, not only will we be tuckering ourselves out attempting the impossible, but we will have no room for anything new.  New things that are good things.  Wiggle things.  Un-committed things.   Spontaneous things like conversations with strangers, an afternoon writing letters, wrestling with your kids, or simply a walk through the neighborhood  the woods.

It's New Year's Day.  I'm not going to beat the old dead horse/drum/dirty rug, but today is a good opportunity to reflect on where we've each been and where we'd like to go.  And regardless of where you and I have been, I believe that there is something in the road ahead that is waiting for us to run it over.  With gusto.

Right now, you might be in the midst of something terrible.  It could be an illness in your life or the life of someone you love.  It could be a broken relationship - gosh, it could be an entire army of broken relationships, for that matter.   Or a looming transition.  Or a lingering offense.  Or a mountain you're afraid to climb.  It could be a gaping sense of loneliness or doubt.  It could crap the bed.  In fact, it probably does.

Friend, there are good things ahead.

You might have had a year unlike any other, more exciting and adventurous than you could have ever imagined.  Full of laughter and hope and joy.  Defined by accomplishment and victories and a lot of crispy bacon.  You may have been surrounded by friends and family.  You may look back and feel a sense of gratitude and warmth and awe at a year of incredible fullness.

Still, there are good things ahead.

Notice that I didn't employ the word easy or nice or perfect to describe what lies before us.  Good things are not always easy things.  They are not always nice things.  And - can I get an Amen - they are not always perfect things.  In fact, they are seldom so.  Good things are sometimes found in the midst of trials, at the end of a depression, or at the base of a steep and difficult ascent.  You often have to actively search for them - you know, turn over rocks and dig in the sand and scramble into trees.  After all, there are hard things ahead as well.

We may have to get a little dirty to discover that we can always see the sunset.

One simply needs to climb high enough.

By this point, my basil leaves have dried in the oven and are ready to pour into a mason jar and be tucked away for some day in February when I need to unscrew the top and take a long sniff of something fragrant and inspiring.  These are the same leaves that frantically overgrew their pots after a matter of weeks in the house and crowded the light out of our windows in September.  They barely survived the summer, but have pressed into the winter with surprising courage.

Today, they are transformed.  They are made new.

Dead, but not useless, they will flavor future cioppinos with sweet aromatics.  They will likely rescue me from a self-inflicted polar plunge that is bound to come knocking one day soon.  When I sprinkle these leaves into a pot or onto bread dough, they will remind me of something that died so that I could live more brightly.  So that I could find something new.  Something good.

So may we scramble high into trees this year.  May we see that there is a sunset above the clouds that is always worth the climb.

And may we work to make room for the adventure.

Popular Posts