The snow is melting off the roof. I can hear it dripping outside the window. I didn’t run this morning. Instead, I took two paracetamol and emptied the dishwasher. I still feel out-of-sorts. And again this question of “normal” arises.

The more I feel things slip out of control, the more I keep rearranging the spice cupboard.

I suppose it is forcing a sense of order on the world. Filling the salt grinder with coarse seas salt. Consolidating three bottles of cumin seeds. It’s grounding.

No pun intended. Or maybe, intended. The textures, the smells are simple and comforting. After nearly a year of ad hoc meals, I’m cooking again. It feels like a good “beginning again”.

Now coffee, and a blank page.

Her voice is pebbled
I press the phone to my ear
an hour of ache
an ocean away she tugs
a thread that unravels us

I can hear you, just-
a knife slices through onion –
keep talking. Neck stretched
to my shoulder stuck mid-shrug
to bear the weight of the call

It would make more sense to me to begin a new year with a solstice or an equinox. Even a full moon would have been nice this year.

And with that sentence: my first resolution of the year is to stop fantasizing that things could be different from what they are in any given moment. I find myself using a bizarre amount of energy on things that aren’t even important to me. An odd kind of diversion and procrastination – that is also a practice in dissatisfaction. I have no need to practice this. I’m already much better at it than I want to be.

It’s not likely I will change the things I can change if my focus is on irrelevant details. When I choose to begin again is irrelevant. I just need to choose. To live consciously.

Camus said it is our human condition, and what is worthwhile. Imagine Sisyphus happy knowing there is no winning. Imagine Sisyphus content.

Hell, even choosing not to choose is living consciously when you acknowledge what you’re doing. I figure, even if it is all one big illusion, it’s the illusion that makes us human.

Get on with the adventure.

On our annual January 1st beach run, E. and I watched the sunset, red sinking into the sea. It was a promise of at least a day or two of clear skies, and it has been clear. And cold. Yesterday the edges of the lake were frozen, and this morning, walking Leonard at 4 am, I loved the way each step across the grass was cushioned. The ice-covered blades giving in slowly. Letting me down easy – which seemed considerate considering the early hour.

Leonard must have eaten something he shouldn’t have yesterday. He’s resting now on the sofa with a stomach full of chicken and rice. I hear E. using the coffee grinder in the kitchen. And here I sit with my fingers on the keyboard whose M,N,L, S and V keys are completely without lettering.

This morning I am grateful my mother made me take touch-typing in high school: “data entry” they called it by then. She made me believe I had no choice in the matter.

Dinner is cooking, work looms, body parts ache, I’m a little sleep-deprived, and no doubt Leonard with scramble off the couch any minute, in a whining rush for the door.

And all is right with the world.
There’s time for poetry.

Everywhere joy in relation and nowhere grasping;

world in abundance and earth enough.

Rainer Maria Rilke (trans. Joanna Macy & Anita Borrows)
from “I Lift My Eyes”

  1. My step-father wouldn’t have known what a time out was. He liked the belt. Or it could be he knew that I’d have liked a time-out. A chance to sit in a quiet, sheltered corner and think about the universe as a shoe-box inside of a shoe-box.
  2. From the hot floor of the backseat of the car, I could see the desert sky darker than any closed eye, shot through with lights brighter than the burn of exposed bulbs on your retina. A frozen hour before the neon of Vegas bled over the heavens.
  3. The best place to fish was from the little dead-end where the river carved a trough between trees and the water was still. Fly-fishing isn’t a spectator sport: I jumped bank to bank and slid beside a nest of moccasins. Deliciously close to a heartbeat.
  4. When I left I packed everything that was mine into cardboard boxes and lined them up in the hallway. I was waiting for him to say, Wait-a-minute. Let’s not do this. I was full-steam ahead, bearing down fast on the switch away from our son’s track.
  5. I take a thick chunk of chalk and draw angled lines on the black wall of the rehearsal room. This is called the vanishing point. As we move closer to it, the world passes us by more quickly: there is less space between each event.

Trying a new form I read about here.

This morning I sit with the awareness that I was nearly sucked into responding to a comment on an Instagram post: a post with an excerpt from one of my diary entries about getting off Facebook – about my longing for discussions rather than debates, for something other than slogans and soundbites.

Something other than excerpts.

The excerpt was intended to provoke curiosity, to get people (not readers or followers) to click over and read my whole missive.

The irony is that I still find myself skimming and looking for the bullet points in other people’s texts. Wanting tidy responses in easy packaging, so I can move on with my own opinions. I don’t read an entire article before forming counter opinions and criticism. I think I reshape those opinions and criticisms as I read more of the article, but I don’t refrain from drawing conclusions at any point along the way. At no point do I just listen.

I’m tightly pressed to the writer’s words, hounding them, countering them – blocking them from my own mind. It’s a weird dance.

I read defensively. I had no idea there was such a thing. So I’m now wondering if this is about my age, my education, my social media habits? Am I feeling that the comment section “includes” me in a kind of debate of sorts – a performance arena? Do I feel it obligates me to participate?

Was there a time when I would read an entire book before forming an opinion instead of sketching one as I go? Part of my consciousness taking in the other, part of it very consciously obstructing understanding with these loosely formed, amorphous – but presently forming and reforming – prejudices.

And is all of this connected to a fear of being “irrelevant”? No: really, the phrase in my head is “not relevant”. The contemporary insult. The fear of which seems closely tied to the fear of ageing.

Paying attention is one of the kindest things we can do—for ourselves, for others.

I’ve joined Medium. Which is interesting.

Because nearly all the articles I’ve seen about mindfulness, about self-awareness, about spiritual growth, are bullet points of advice.

I am pulling Annie Dillard off the shelf again. I’m looking for writers who are asking questions instead of offering conclusions. I want to see the workings of other people’s minds at the point of their mushiness, their unbaked, reptile-fetal promise exposed.

I want to see moments of negative capability. More poetry please.

And I’m open to suggestions.

I saw a tweet this morning by a person looking for “more intellect, less wisdom” in their poetry. I’m curious what they mean by that, but seriously doubt that a fruitful conversation can be had about the subtleties of those words in soundbites and “threads”.

Just thinking about attempting it in that form makes me anxious. I want a cup of coffee, a deep chair and a long, well-formulated exploration of ideas.

I want to fall in love with the world again.