Tomorrow I will run on the beach. The 9th year of a personal tradition for New Year’s Day. Today I will try to tick off some of the things on my to-do list before I head back to work, and into a new year.

I write lists. And sometimes I find them lying around the house. On the backs of envelopes – which seems to be the thing we all do – or on clean sheets of paper, elaborately detailed with handmade calendars. There are ghosts of electronic lists on my google calendar and google task apps.

Sometimes it is jarring to stumble on an old list and see the number of things never ticked off, and completely forgotten. Shifting priorities that leave huge swaths of forgotten ambitions. I wonder if somewhere there is a realm of follow-through, where curtains have been hemmed, shelves rearranged, grout scrubbed, and books written. My lists are aspirational. The documentation of passing whims. Like screenshots of the possible iterations of my life – that I dropped like a high school crush when someone else showed an interest in me. It was easier: there. An “at least” guaranteed.

I am really good at living fully in the moment. It can be overrated.

At this moment, I have a half-painted hallway. I have a pile of clean laundry dumped on a chaise lounge whose cushions I have not seen in months. I have hand-drawn boxes for these things on a list on the back of an envelope: Wash the moss off the deck before I slip and break a bone. Set up the flooring in the outdoor yoga space. Write a book of haibun.

Maybe this awful memory of mine is a blessing. I forget what I have done, yes, but along with what I had planned to do. I avoid looking back to see what I have done in the past year – the past decade. I do remember thinking at the turn of last year, that I might write a memoir. I put it on a list. Then found myself wondering if I really wanted to dig there, touch that.

I have a title in mind. That’s what is on my to-do list now and maybe this time next year, I will see it and not have a clue what the words refer to. That entire perspective will slip into the other realm. That entire narrative. That entire life.

There is a radical freedom in choosing what things to follow through on.  What things to remember.

In choosing perspectives that can make sense of the series of choices we made. Make.

I would like to think that – that we have a radical freedom to decide who we really are. What we can do with what life has done with us.

But when I fall asleep at night, my heart rate doubles, and only slowly climbs down over the course of the night. There’s a memoir being written.

There is a long list of things still pending – there below the surface of waking moments.







Missing instagram.

The constrained attention of a photo-a-day habit – when it really is fine not to add an interpretation of the moment. To point – and let it be. And let the words come when they will. When in a quiet moment, the dragon decides to move through.


These days are in-between the old year and the new year – the death of last year’s foliage and the rebirth of the flowers. And since most days are white, I do think of shrouds –  in that abstract way that I can – never having touched a shroud – breathing through all this white on afternoon runs.

But some days, the sky opens like a deep blue throat, both ominous and promising.

Like a collapsed bridge to a jump-off point.

The sun turned two days ago. And isn’t this the way it always is – so ready, so over-due for something to change, only to find myself lagging behind.

The sky is a lazy white, and as bright now as it will be all of today.

There is a silent mumuration of starlings over the neighbor’s house. I’ve been wondering if the new bright red bird feeder has frightened the sparrows. I haven’t seen one in days.

The dog needs walking. And he’ll pull and pull on his harness. Like he knows where he is going.

I told E. today that I don’t want to know what the dog is thinking.
It might be a huge disappointment.

These days nothing feels as it should.

There is an off-ness in the gusts of wind, in the bad news that I read from the local paper while the dog pees on the dying bush that is his 4.30 a.m. go-to spot.

I’m going to have to find a new morning routine for the two of us.

After lunch, I walk around the rail station. Hail comes and goes. The pigeons line up in two neat rows.

Who knows why.

It’s what we do, I suppose.

From Kindergarten. Line up. Calm down. Be good.

And we keep at it. Mindlessly, when our thoughts are turned to the blind corners of depression. When things we touch wither and die.

We line up. We wait. We follow peripheral bodies. We seek comfort in the meaningless crowd.

We behave.

There is a wisdom in traditions. They must be borne of intuitive responses. The first of December means the Norwegians bring out the advent lights. These days – when leaving for work in the dark and heading home in the dark can make me feel robbed of something – these small lights evoke sensations of fireplaces and hot chocolate. Not that I have many memories of fireplaces and hot chocolate to evoke – but there is a promise.

Sometimes that’s all we need for a full life. Maybe because everything embodies its opposite:

img_20191206_152702-02371756396473224816.jpegA promise is always an open-ended story. Holding on to one puts us in a space of negative capability.  

Women used to put lights in the windows to help fisherman find their way home.

We’ve always signaled one another with light, haven’t we?

Signaled our vulnerability.

Wood burning in the fireplace used to evoke the experience of the physical exertion of splitting wood. A wool sock is the hours put into shearing and carding, spinning and knitting, haunted by the rhythm of the fingers that looped and tugged in quiet meditation.

Someone’s grandmother’s sighs are in each row.

We live half-lives often. Or at least I do. There is something missing, something meaningful in what we have worked so hard to avoid.

The lights are in the window, but there’s so much work still to be done.