This week’s post is a bit early. I just got so inspired by a lot of different people this week. Hope you’ll have a chance to check out some of the links below.
Awake early while the kids, cat, and husband still sleep. Downstairs, watching the earliest light start to colour the day and distinguish the branches from the sky. I’m curled up on the couch, wrapped in the blanket of soft static that settles over a quiet house. Even though it is dark, the birds are waking. Because it is January, the days are lengthening; the light comes sooner and stays longer. The first months of the year are bald and sleepy, like a newborn. In a fit of New Year’s housekeeping yesterday, I descaled the kettle (limescale is my first world problem). I’ve made a fresh mug of cranberry-orange tea. It smells like an echo of Christmas and has a gorgeous, transparent, ruby hue. That’s the gift of this morning: clear tea.
Like many whose writings I enjoy, over the past few weeks I’ve been looking for a word or words to guide 2012. With an interesting discussion and comment thread, readers at Strocel.com shared their words, past and present. The ever gracious host, Amber, has settled on clarity. Artist Gwyn Michael will be creating a 2012 with: Grace. Endurance. Determination. Simplicity. Hope. As for me, I’m heading into the new year, double-fisted, with pace and trust.
Pace –‘To him whose elastic and vigorous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning.’ – Henry David Thoreau, Walden.
I want to pace my running – For me this means keeping the mileage and the frequency consistent. I like time outside. I don’t run with headphones, instead I hear and feel the air in my ears. I often start with a mind spilling over with questions, ideas, words. In no particular order, I refine the questions, ponder the ideas, consider the words. Some I put away, more I leave scattered behind me on the gravel path. By the end, I’m just running, everything else has boiled off.
I want to pace my writing – I have grown to love and need the habit of showing up at the page. Usually in the early morning or late night, I carve out time to write longhand. At those times, I become deaf to children who need drinks of water or who can’t sleep. (Luckily, their father has excellent hearing). I’ll pace myself to post something here each week. I’ll mine something from the scribbles to polish into writing. Like my friend the tortoise, slowly but surely I’ll build a collection of writings. I’ll try to let go of the desire to have a certain kind of feedback or number of readers. Simply sharing some writing is good, and the words will find a way – their own way – to travel to the ears that need to hear them. Funny directive: show up, step back. Rachael at the Variegated Life reminds me to trust the process.
That’s the second word: trust.
I’ve been thinking a lot about trust since I came across Kristin Noelle’s thoughtful and gentle meditations at her website, Trust Tending. There is nothing blandly passive or submissive about the trust she grows in her gardens. Her kind of trust propels you into acts of courage, honesty, and risk. It’s the trust needed for walking in the dark.
This year, I’m walking in the dark before dawn. I don’t have a noonday vision of how it all fits together. I don’t have a big picture for what it is I think I’m doing with my time, talents, passions. I only know that I’ve got to learn and play my part as best as I can. And trust it. It’s a lot like playing in an orchestra – the cellos are not the orchestra (neither are the first violins, but don’t tell them that). One musician cannot play the entire symphony alone. The players learn their music, and trust that the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts. The conductor, who makes no sound, must have the greatest trust of all to believe that waving a stick will bring music alive.
So I trust that writing, teaching physics, and playing cello are all notes in my part. I realize I’m lucky to do something that matters to me and still have time for family. I’m lucky to have a gracious partner who supports my ideas and our family. I take comfort knowing that if circumstances were different and I needed to work full-time, I have the skills, experiences, and qualifications to do so. And I trust that if that were the situation, I’d walk a different path with a different sense of purpose and fulfillment. But the choice for now, and the one I’m trusting is true, is to make less money and have more time, space, and meaning.
This is a good path, not only for the melodies I find in the daily practice itself, but also because I believe my notes will play a key role in the harmonies and rhythms of the overall symphony. I don’t know what it sounds like yet – the rest of the ensemble is yet to arrive – but I trust it will be grand.