Into the White

And this year has not been off to the best start. A lag, and a rush, and dealing with new realities.

I read today about  – was it Seneca? – who admonished people for waiting until 50 or 60 to begin living life intentionally. And there was something about focusing on being present, not on accomplishments. Of course, the people telling us this have all accomplished enough to say such a thing.

With a straight face.

I arrived in London on the 23rd of December,  and ran down the escalators at every tube station. We ran 17K on Christmas Eve, and I woke up with runner’s knee on Christmas morning – only to bicycle across London to see the boys anyway. Now, two weeks and one painful New Year’s run later, it’s clear there will be no marathon for me in February. It’s a blow to my confidence.

And not the only blow to my confidence this month. There are work issues, other health issues. There is aging, which is probably somehow related to both.

There was a storm. And I find that I’ve let myself slip into an unproductive/objective (not present) perspective.

I’m behind in my correspondence.

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On the way to Synesvarden. Before the fog rolled in.

Today I prodded E. to head out for a hike. (Another thing on my holiday to-do list was to get a new winter hiking jacket. Not done. After 20 minutes, my coat was soaked through. Thank goodness for wool.)

We headed out to Synesvarden, which seemed like an ironic name for the spot today. White: a 360 degree view of white. We take what life brings us. Today, it came a few meters at a time. The cold-stiff orange and yellow tussocks, the granite rocks that might be coated with ice. Shadows that grow into figures that mumble or holler, “good day” as they pass.

There was a dog barking somewhere in the forest, and we circled back to find her. But she went silent.

Isn’t there a culture that conceptualizes the future as something that comes at us from behind to overtake us? Maybe they are the only ones to have it right. All this planning, all the mirages we see ahead of us. The clump of earth that should be frozen, but that rushes suddenly from behind to slip into the present, under your foot, in the form of soft and giving mud. And there you have it: the irretraceable moment that is a wet sock.

There have been bright moments. Moments that shine a bit, like glassy eyes after half-a-bottle of wine. And I keep telling myself this will pass. This grief.  Because that is what this is. It seems by body understood it long before my mind caught up to see what the problem was.

There is more to this new challenge: the surrender of ambition, the letting go of childhood dreams that were based on values that I may have never fully accepted, and don’t accept now. Fears can stand in the way, no doubt, but fear can also deflect the original aim of an ambition.

“Because we didn’t get enough love of children.” That is probably more of a paraphrase than a quote, from a fiction character in a musical.

There is that moment. When you get to the brink of where you deliberately headed, and you realise: this isn’t at all what I really want.

Coddiwomple: to wander purposefully towards a vague destination.

It’s time to admit it: to live intentionally doesn’t have to involve ambition. There is purpose in being in the moment, in being in the white with wet socks, and mist in your eyelashes.

 

 

9 Comments

  1. I have only recently found your blog, Ren, and this post resonated with me so much. I look forward to catching up with what I have missed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, this grief of aging – for me it’s exacerbated by the taking down of the tree, the slow (but too fast still) returning to “normal” life, when the days for some reason feel much shorter than they did before the shortest day. I think it’s a life-long grief which only trying to achieve our dreams can help us to deal with, even if we understand that we can’t achieve them all (or even one) – and that’s meant in a very positive way.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are wise to say this, but the facts are that it is hard to follow the theory that one ‘knows’ into actual practice in day to day life:
    “the surrender of ambition, the letting go of childhood dreams that were based on values that I may have never fully accepted, and don’t accept now. Fears can stand in the way, no doubt, but fear can also deflect the original aim of an ambition.” Wonderful insight, Ren.

    I’m older than you by a decade (or a bit more), and I can attest to the surrender, the letting go, the fear, the understanding that mindful daily presence helps us get through grief and stress better than does striving, fear, and ambition.

    [But I never have been ambitious–no marathoner, not a competitive bone in this body; nonetheless as the body begins its betrayal, it is challenging not to feel lessened or limited. Except in the aspect of writing I think I am perhaps ambitious; and even then, I have not felt ambitious to be recognized as a writer. (Good thing, that!). I remain ambitious to keep writing. Just to write at all, given the tribulations of a very ordinary life. ]

    There will continue to be bright moments. Letting go helps us to notice them, at least, in my experience. Though perhaps other people have different experiences. There’s always “Do not go gentle…” etc. 😉

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