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:
A 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.
Some mornings, even dark mornings, the world seems too bright.
And I feel an extra pressure to step up. To be good enough. It’s as if something is hawking, mustering, whistling a rally cry. I have no idea what for, but there is rising sense of urgency, a sharp edge of panic touching my diaphragm. The foot traffic meanders in big britches and birthright, while I rush and dodge. Half-blinded by the contrast of promise and place. There’s a necessary something just there ahead.
I wrote to Carolee, nearly three years ago, about the way I have written this season difficult. Cutting loose is inherently a give and take. And the only way to keep going is to stay in the moment.
But I miss the letters.
I let go of the wrong things in the mælstrøm.
I find them again, each time I circle around – I rediscover my neglect.
I am too passive, too forgetful – and the world is too round for singing.