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”