Sometimes for no particular reason, a season turns and something new begins. A fog lifts, but so slowly that even watching it you can’t pinpoint the moment that has passed. I sometimes slip into thinking that this is the way of the world, but I think the fault is in me: the not-noticing.

I read a book once on quantum mechanics. And while reading it, with each paragraph, with each page, I understood it. I could hold the concept in my head and it made sense. But when I finished the book, all of the ideas were lost to me. It is when I understood my own limitations with regard to that kind of abstract conceptualization. In some ways, I was disappointed in myself. But there was also a kind of satisfaction in finding this one way to delineate my own abilities. Here, but no further. It was a step closer to discovering the shape of me. Now a new direction – running into a new limitation. I wonder if someday I will step back to see an outline of who I am.

There is a kind of security, knowing where the edges of myself lie. It is something I can point to and claim to know.

My point was what I remember from the quantum mechanics book is that things don’t happen gradually and they don’t ease into our awareness. There are sudden jumps. Babies really do grow suddenly overnight. It’s not our imaginations. So it is actually likely that the fog just lifts and we just think we missed it because we are searching for a process. Almost like searching for an explanation. If we can’t explain it we can’t predict it next time – we can’t pretend to control it. The doctors tell us things happen gradually. So gradually that we don’t notice. They reassurance things are “happening” outside of our awareness. But what if they are wrong. What if things are stagnant until they just – inexplicably – change?

Even a metaphorical fog lifting can simultaneously make me feel better and make me feel inadequate. I can’t find a reason for this thinning of the world. For this easing in the atmosphere. I try to track down the causes, but I am rationalizing. A dinner with friends. A morning on the porch without gloves. Who knows. But if I knew, I could squirrel the information away for next time and use it as a treatment. All very scientific.

But here I sit with incantations. But also wonder.

an interruption
a detour from linear
growth – unexpected

A deep breath this morning as I sit down. Salted coffee, and blackbirds outside the window. I didn’t write yesterday, but spent a full day with a new printer: learning to adjust for paper weights, manual feed, and double-sided pages. A lot of trial and error. Small steps forward. Or sideways.

No: I am moving forward again.

I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I got my first pair of glasses. But I remember looking at a tree and realizing that you are supposed to see the individual leaves on trees. My eyesight had deteriorated so gradually I hadn’t noticed what I had lost of the world.

This week I feel like I can see the leaves on the trees. It’s not that life is less crowded, but it is more vibrant. Distinguishing the foreground from the background, wresting meaning from it all is easier.

There is a saying that things having gradually then all at once. But these past years, things happened all at once, and then so gradually that I thought changes were improvements, or at least adjustments. I didn’t see the signs of depression because the everyday problems were so tiny compared to the crisis that began it all. How could I be having trouble getting through the day when the worst was over a long time ago?

My world is popping back into three dimensions. Other people seem more substantial. I realize how odd that sounds. I don’t mean that in comparison with how I perceived myself, I have been insubstantial, too. That is what depression does. In my case the desperate search for meaning and pleasure can look like business, like creativity or a “spark” of joy. But the spark is just me bumping against the metallic edge of panic. Wheels spinning, and life is just so much harder than it needs to be. Pinched.

When the doctor asked me if I was depressed, I said I didn’t think so. I said I was overwhelmed, hypomanic. But now I see.

Now I feel like crying. And that is a very good thing.

Last night walking Leonard in the dark, I heard the wheeeEEE of the pterodactyls lapwings. They are back, so it is officially spring. Officially a time to mark new beginnings.

under the streetlight
wet paw prints, footsteps glisten
temporarily
like loved ones gone by morning
after a crossing over

Last night we walked Leonard in a cold wind. It’s odd how the actual temperature has little to do with how much cold the body perceives. I had to consciously force myself to look for the things I could find delight in. Again (because I’ve written about this before): I’m not looking for gratitude. I’m not going to try force it – whatever “it” is.

I am looking for things to admire. Find delight, as Ross Gay describes it. Hashtag joyspotting on Instagram (except I don’t require nearly as much beauty to spark delight or a flicker of joy).

I hope real gratitude will eventually well up from wherever it wells-up from. The heart, not the head. From the whole-body life, and not an objective, intellectual attitude toward the “other” and what it can do for me: make my life more pleasant.

Last night the sky was pink. My toes were numb, my fingers aching while I stood there looking for the reflection I knew should be there. Was there, pink in the water-logged mess that was part of the playground. If it had been a warm night, it would have not been more delightful moment.

I’m not trying to make any tired statements about how the unpleasant sets the pleasant in relief and makes us appreciate it more. That’s an intellectual exercise.

I am thinking more about letting go of the need to judge each moment according to expectations and stories. To physically be in the moment and notice what I am perceiving, letting go of the illusion that it can or should be anything else.

It’s humbling. All this powerlessness. Even the powerlessness in rejecting the stories that my mind wants to cling to, to make sense of the world. To give myself an illusion of comprehension, of control. If I can’t change things, I can put them in boxes.

Numb toes are “bad”. When I get back to the house, they’ll hurt as the circulation begins again. I should hurry back to the house. Don’t stand here and stare at the pink water.

I’m not an idiot. This animal body of mine will avoid what is unpleasant and will seek what is pleasant when it can. This meaty head will justify it all somehow.

But where I put my attention in the meantime is my choice.

In the meantime. That’s an interesting word: meantime. I looked it up. It means during a time when something else is being done, or during a time before something happens.

My life is a series of meantimes.

I’ve been working now for a while on a manuscript that focuses on time and impermanence. And I have been considering my own relationship with the concept. Like an anorexic with food, I put a lot of attention and effort into controlling the hours of my days. But like an anorexic, the more controlling and precise I become, the less nourishment I am able to take in. I am not using my time well. I want to stop time until I “figure it out”. But time is unavoidable.

And time rushes at me in the meantime. But there is no “there” there. Except for death.

I recently read about complexity as a form of avoidance. Systems, calendars, plans. Over-thinking. This should all be so simple. To stop telling myself the stories. To be here now – and not in a meantime.

a train is passing
and blackbirds are chattering –
a windowpane can’t
stop the day from moving on
taking me with it always

They predicted snow last night, but this morning there’s just a soft rain. Still, Leonard doesn’t want to go out in it. Neither do I really, and I am a bit ashamed of that. What I wouldn’t give now to lie down on a green lawn and stare at a blue sky. To feel the sharp blades of grass on my arms, knowing I will itch for hours afterward.

Maybe I can get to the beach tomorrow. Maybe the wind will have died down but the sea will still be agitated from the storm. But it is a while yet before I can take off my shoes and walk along the edges of the tides.

I guess winter is really a season of sensual deprivation. Or it can feel like that, at any rate. The cold is numbing. The body’s instinct is to withdraw. A hot cup of tea, a hot bath. But the air is so stale inside.

I haven’t used the outdoor yoga room since summer. Sometimes I get in a groove that is difficult to rock myself out of. I guess we all do. Even though I know I would feel better if I could just… get up. The doctor says that just to walk in the evenings is enough. But it’s not. At least that is what I tell myself, and use that as an excuse not to do even that. I set the bar high.

I flip the house so
I’ve a sea-bed perspective –
eyes looking up, but
the thresholds between each room
are ridiculously high

A single sun salutation is a kind of secular prayer this morning. An upward salute, pleading for something to take this weight from my chest. Finding a willingness, the courage to actually let go of it.

What would be left in its place?

Sometimes it is easier to cling to the weight than deal with the hollowness.

Between raindrops, ………………

………………………space, certainly,

but we call it all rain. …………..

Camille T. Dungy, “There are these moments of permission”

This morning I look in the mirror and see the swollen half-moons under each eye. I’m still dealing with insomnia. I grab a coffee mug and open the sliding door to let Leonard out into the yard. The snow is coming in nearly perpendicular to the earth, and half-melting the moment it touches anything. The table outside is covered with a gray slush and hailstones. Leonard comes in again, wet and miserable, heading straight for the treat cupboard.

I’m on a second cup of coffee before I even sit down to write.

My morning routine has sort of toppled on its head. Yoga and meditation when and if I force myself. But I know all things circle back and am trying to be patient with myself. No whipping. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you live with ease.

I’ve cleared my calendar again, to settle down with mint tea and a book of poems. This afternoon: Camille T. Dungy’s Trophic Cascade. I am having a difficult time giving in to relaxation. But I would be lying if I tried to convince anyone that the guilt I have means I am actually getting anything done. Housework. Yard work. I honestly don’t know how the hours are leaving my presence so empty.

I lay on the shakti mat and listen to a podcast. I eat. I long to go running. Or rather, I long to want to go running again. Patience.

Leonard nudges my arm so I will lift it out of his way, and he lays his head on my chest and stares at me. I have no idea what is going on in his head when he does this. Sometimes he will lift his head and, very tenderly, bite the tip of my nose. Honestly, it’s as uncomfortably intimate as it is amusing.

The clocks spring forward in a little over a week. Which means that the mornings will be dark again. I am already mentally preparing. After that, Easter, and then headlong towards summer. It’s only this year that I am conscious of the ambivalence I feel when I become aware of myself wanting summer to come soon. In wanting the days to fly by. I have no idea if I am late to this understanding? Late to understanding the value in savoring all of the days? Sometimes I catch myself counting backwards. From 95 on a good day. From 100 on days when my respect for science totters on the edge of faith. Then I remind myself that there is no guarantee and that to put off really paying attention to the days until I am retired may not be the wisest of plans. What are those seven regrets again? And why on earth am I thinking of them now?

You know. I don’t think I’m going to regret not doing the dishes right now.

I’ve got a book of poems and an overgrown puppy.

the cold winds squeezing
between the sash and the sill
intermittent taps
reminding you of the world
beyond the quilt and the tea