This morning I lay in bed for a while. Saturdays are slow. When I looked at the far wall of the bedroom, it was as if I were seeing it for the first time. The texture of the paint over the texture of the plaster. The neatly-fitting edges of the fireplace insert. The eggshell white wall meeting the forest green wall in a deep corner, a shadowed seam.

I’ve slept in the room most nights for just over 5 years. I woke this morning as though I were staying in a new place. Or a hotel room. I don’t know what triggered the sense of unfamiliarity. There is always a tiny fear that the problem is actually that this experience is more the result of the sense of familiarity not triggering. But not in the moment. In the moment: wonder.

I thought about lying flung over a twin bed with my head grazing the green shag carpet of a rented apartment. A room with popcorn ceilings that made lulling shadows in the light of the pink nightlight plugged into the wall socket. Music coming from the other room, where there were sandalwood and paisleys, love beads and bongs. Soft laughter.

I imagined the world flipped on its head. Climbing over thresholds to move from room to room. Looking up at the furniture as if from underwater. Light fixtures rising like seaweed from the ocean’s bed.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned that other people did this as children. Saw this world.

At the time, I sure felt alone.

I knew solitude
before I knew loneliness
I heard the world’s whispers
its shape-shifting points of view
unleashed, tucked-in at bedtime

My yoga practice this month has been limited to sun salutations and warriors. A single bridge in an attempt to return to my morning flows. What I thought was shoulder trouble, is really a problem with deep, small muscles in my back. I miss headstands. But this morning I was thinking that maybe time off from them has been good. Time to appreciate perspectives and purpose a bit more. A practice so rooted in routine can be something of a paradox.

Sometimes it’s important to embrace the unknown – to not know what is over the next hill, what is taking shape in the fading light…

I’m still searching for a comfortable way to be in the world. I’m still struggling with wanting to be seen, while wanting the freedom to keep growing in ways that being seen prevents.

Lately for no particular reason I can discover, I get flashbacks of events of my life – arriving from another perspective. It’s uncomfortable. It requires an active application of self-compassion to get through the moment. And sometimes through the day.

I also find myself rebelling against social currents now in a way I don’t think I ever have before. When I was younger, my rebellion was personal. Within the reach of my body. I was in a hurry to get past it all.

Past it, I don’t want to learn the language of the public stockade that is social media. I don’t want to memorize the list of new cultural crimes where the more subtle the context, the more hamfisted the punishment.

I thought I understood what “the personal is political” meant. Now I feel that the political is – has always been immediate. Awkward perspectives: a meritocracy of hurt.

Nothing is ever
and for-ever is enough
for every-a thing is
the passing storm and the breeze
already and never been

Slipping out of the room where the grown-ups are fighting. Someone always gets hurt. Someone always feels shame. And there’s always too much to go around just once.

I need a shower and a good cry.

Then a run along the lake.

I made the mistake of beginning the morning by reading the news. And browsing social media. I know better.

Out the door late, and in the wrong frame of mind. But the sun was just beginning to rise, and the full moon and the snow made the morning brighter. A slow walk with Leonard through the fields.

I remind myself that I don’t have to have an opinion on everything. That it is a good thing to admit to not knowing all of the relevant facts. Yesterday I read about an 18th Century playwright who stopped writing for several years. To take it all in. To reconsider his views. To listen, I suppose.

I’m trying to figure out at what point in my life I began to think that judgment was expected – no: required of me. That judgment was proof of intelligence or education. Of moral integrity.

I remember being very young when I thought Pastor Garanger preached that Jesus said* the greatest sin was to be luke-warm. Maybe it began then? Hot or Cold. This or That. Take a stand. It may well be one of my earliest memories regarding morality.

“If you’re neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” There is a tremendous pressure to get the facts in order quickly, lest you be perceived as being on the wrong side of even minor situations. “Witch hunt” is such a cliche that we no longer consider how it became one. The tenor of human nature.

“If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” Quick. What is there to think about?

There have been studies done where toddlers object to – or relish – the abuse of a puppet, based on whether the puppet expressed the same preference for a choice of snack.

Pick a side or be shoved out of all of the circles.

“Who’s your daddy?”

This morning I better understand one aspect of my own personality. We’re a fearful species really, aren’t we?

Maybe it’s just me.

Yesterday I talked to the students about postmodernism. I told them that – in effect – we’ve come to the end of history.

Not one of them knew what the definition of a paradox was.

I did not tell them
to imagine stepping in
among the crowding
independent thinkers – just
to slip into irrelevance

*Actually this is from Revelations, and are the words of the apostle John.

Yesterday I ran in the afternoon, after work and before a massage. Getting back into the groove of daily habits isn’t easy. Pushing a boulder uphill is easier with momentum. E. says that from here this is what matters: the pushing on after a pause. Pushing on.

The path along the creek in the town where I work is picturesque regardless of the season. Yesterday the sun was shining. The weather has stayed below freezing for weeks, so everything seems sugar-coated: Christmas-card pine trees. There was a 5-foot snowman guarding one of the goalposts on the football field.

But about 2 kilometers in, I came up on what was left of a blackbird. A full wing and foot, and tendrils of red – I don’t know, sinews? entrails? – in the middle of the path. There were no paw prints or blood smears, so I’m assuming it was dropped by a bird of prey.

I used to take photographs when I came across dead birds on my runs. I didn’t think much about why. I stopped taking them when my sons pointed out how bizarre it was that I had so many photos of dead birds in various states of decay on my computer screen. Maybe, at the time, it was an unconscious act of memori morti: I suppose photography is a kind of meditation.

At any rate, it no longer seems necessary. The photo-taking.

I notice these things now without having to use the camera as a tool. I pause anyway.

E. and I managed to get ourselves up and out the door before dawn this morning. The first time in a month. The sky had the perfect amount of clouds to soften the cold, but leave the waning moon unobscured over the trees. The lake was silent. I talked too much. There are mornings when we get back to the trail-head and I think I need to do it again, “right”. Mornings like these.

Back at the house, I moved through sun salutations then settled down on the mat. Leonard contorting his back oddly to lie close into my legs for the six minutes of breathing.

I rest my hands on his rib-cage. Everything is impermanent. Everything is imperfect.

Snow falls from the crows’
settling in the treetops
for half an hour’s rest
and chatter – moving on, touch
and go, always touch and go

Halfway between the solstice and the equinox.

I find myself breaking the year into smaller pieces. Looking more closely at how time passes. How the earth moves in a rhythm, in a circle of coming together and falling apart.

I have an image in my head of dolphins breaching the surface of the ocean in enthusiastic arcs. But never in unison. A staggered pattern like raindrops, or lifetimes.

I read that in Ireland the lambing begins near Brigid’s day. But here, we won’t see the animals until grazing begins in May. The fields are covered with snow. There are warm bodies in barns that reek of close quarters. Smells that pull us toward the wet, fluid spring.

Yesterday we ran along the lake. “A blanket of snow” lay over the thin ice. I have no fresh metaphor for the sight.

Dried reeds still rise 2 or 3 meters high along the shore. Below the snow, they’re rotting – making the ice especially fragile, though the water is shallow here. There’s also a warmth that belongs to death.

It’s easy to overlook, until it takes us by surprise.

When I walk Leonard these days I can’t distinguish the path from the field from the pond’s edges. The ducks gather on a patch of shining water. E. and I bought dried peas this year to scatter for the birds since we aren’t sure how long the snow will stay. There are so many of them. So many ducks.

A single, round robin hopped along in tandem with us yesterday, in the field on the other side of the stone hedge. Leonard was oblivious, having caught the scent of something that was just as oblivious to me. A hare maybe. Rat, cat, blackbird?

Four ravens watch me
from their street lamp – as I pass
through the no man’s land
they turn on their perch, silent –
they watch me returning home