Always Take the Winding Path

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What’s the rush?


I had no intention of following the doctor’s orders. I would rather be running. I’d rather feel like I had some control. Even if it is an illusion.

Resting takes effort.

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My best friend gave me this print years ago. It hangs in our entrance hall. And it reminds me to let go. To be “simple”. 

I had lunch with a student and we both laughed out loud over our shared sense of feeling lost in all this pandemic information: numbers, expert opinions, predictions, perspectives. I think we both wanted to throw confetti in the air, eat our chorizo with total abandon and forget and/or celebrate how “wierd” the world has suddenly become to us.

But instead we talked about cancer. And other random fates. If she weren’t still my student, I would have opened a bottle of wine so we might be prompted to move on to sillier stories. Other – equally common, equally weird – kinds of fates.

We were both laughing in that way that Pirandello talked about: L’umerismo. Life is so painful there is nothing to do but laugh.

It was a weird way to spend a Thursday afternoon.

When my student headed home and E. had finished work for the day, I cooked bacon & eggs, and cubanelle peppers. And I poured myself a glass of wine. A New Zealand sauvignon blanc that a former student introduced me to years ago. (I feel compelled to point out that they had by that time they had already become a former student – lest people begin to speculate.) After dinner I walked Leonard around the neighborhood while E. enjoyed a half an hour in an empty house.

Just before this year new year began, I deleted my old Instagram account. I’d had a three-year project taking a photo each day as a kind of Zen practice. I regret deleting the account, and I have missed the practice. It wasn’t the documentation that was important, it was the noticing: the framing.

When you take a photo along the same stretch of 2 kilometers nearly every day for 3 years, you learn to focus. You look for beauty. Or drama. No. Not really. After a time, you just look at compositions: the way things fit together. Contrasts, rhythms, repetitions. It’s all beautiful.

On this morning’s walk I noticed the sky. Two faint rays – like flashlight beams, or like drawing from a religious children’s book. Nothing that would have photographed well, but the idea of taking a photo is what brought the moment to my attention. To my appreciation and my memory.

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This evening, the sun hit the field from the horizon. It highlighted the labyrinth the tufts of grass pose for the tiny creatures that live there.

I am not supposed to be spending money these days, but I have a book addiction. My copy of Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights arrived yesterday. When I heard Krista Tippet interview Gay on an episode of On Being, I wondered if he wasn’t onto something: that maybe the key is not gratitude after all, but delight.

I’m not really able to summon gratitude for the weirdness of this day, for the sunset, or for the labyrinth-for-locusts. But I am truly delighted by them all. And once I experience the delight – gratitude flows naturally.

I am not sure if that admission exposes me a self-centered person. I’ll trust that it exposes me as honest. It is where I am now on this road. I’ll wind my way toward the gratitude.

Our guide tells us today, Day 6 of the journey, we encounter the Fuente de Vino. I considered that when pouring myself  a second glass of wine on a Thursday evening.

The world is so weird right now.

I’ll take it.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. How beautiful, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. neil reid says:

    poems have so many faces they can choose to wear. your words come through and come out the other side of themselves. is it so, to be humble in sight of this face? I think so. thanks for saying what is also inside all of us – a voice more well pronounced than us as we commonly are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ren Powell says:

      Thank you for the kind comment.

      Like

  3. The world IS weird right now. But it is always weird; we just can generally make it fit our concept of normal by patting it into habits and routines and various other categories.

    Also? Ross Gay’s book is delightful. Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

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