“What you are is where you have been. What you’ll be is what you do now.”
Tired of being tricked, the spring flowers on this bright and breezy Wisconsin morning seem to be turning toward the sun and asking, “You mean it this time?”
Or maybe that’s me asking.
As is typical in these parts, spring announced itself early with some pleasant warm days, then taunted us with a few chilly snaps before agreeing to stay for good.
Nature’s spring tantalizing sent me looking for a prior spring-themed post i’d written. I was surprised to find — in the way that the passing of time is nearly always surprising — that it has already been three years since that post (It’s the Thaw That Counts).
I was also startled at the contrast between that spring’s perspective and this one’s. That one had come during a period when i was still dealing with repercussions of a life-altering personal crisis.
As pleasant as today’s gentle breeze is, even more so is this reminder of how far behind me that particular storm is.
As i’ve said in the context of other transitions, for me one of the most important factors of confronting any challenging experience is determining to do so with complete honesty.
I struggled in that earlier post with wishing i were more encouraging, yet wanting to face squarely how things looked.
Today i can just as candidly say the sun has come out.
There have been other difficulties to face since, and there will doubtless be others to come.
But the current moment is (finally) characterized less by traumatic transition and more by acceptance and adapting. A welcome sense of settledness for the time being.
The metamorphosis in the past few years from being a relatively healthy person to becoming one with permanent limitations has also meant confronting self-doubt about functioning in new territory where measures of success and purpose are different and not so obvious.
Readers who have experienced comparable transitions will understand this best… The most comforting reassurance i can give myself is that i am gradually becoming *ok* with my own story.
Time to enjoy the gifts of spring while they’re here.
As for the future, this quote (by Harold Wilson) captures my attitude well…
“I am an optimist, but an optimist who carries a raincoat.”
Time for another short fable, for those who enjoy that sort of thing.
It’s been a while since i’ve done one of these. (See previous ones under Allegory.) I find that the brevity and symbolism have a unique way of getting at something i’m feeling or experiencing.
Most times when i write these, i have an interpretation in mind, although some meanings come about in the process that i didn’t consider at the outset. (This one began with the first few lines given as a writing exercise, but soon took on a life of its own. Alternate title: Beyond Doubt.)
Please do let me know ideas or meanings that come to you from this story. I also invite you to write your own continuations of the story in the comments.
As always, thanks for reading.
The Side Door
Out for her daily walk, lovely Dubia blinked twice and looked again. Could it be?… Yes, definitely, it was Paul — walking toward her. It had been several years since their last contact. Her hands trembled as she drew her jacket tighter against the cold wind. What was he doing here?
Here on the boardwalk along the river, where she had long ago tried in vain to connect with Paul, the odorless cold now hinted at the coming snow storm.
The present light dusting had not yet made her steps uncertain, but would soon.
Away from the elements and close to her body, she carried a shivering kitten. Pausing momentarily to unbutton her jacket, she reached in and reassured the tiny creature, then bundled up tightly again to protect them both from the bluster as she strolled.
Fishing shanties dotted one side of the wood-plank walkway. On the other was the river, lined with idle fishing boats waiting for their owners to take them to their winter storage places.
Most of the diminutive old buildings had been restored, now housing cafes and other shops. Just past midday, the clinking of cafe dishes paired pleasantly with the muffled clanking of chains that moored the few remaining vessels.
Just one shanty was shabby and still, apparently abandoned. The door facing the walkway was padlocked, but there was a side door someone had left ajar. Continue reading
(Stephen Hawking, 1942-2018)
I would add that any healthy relationship can provide a mirror that reflects as well the best of who we already are. Attention to both — to our underlying dignity, and to areas where we could become our better selves — can arouse in us the desire for personal growth.
I have this mental picture of a concert pianist about to set hands to keys… pin-drop quiet in the hall… adjusting the seat… lightly shaking the arms… digits hovered over the blacks and whites… the momentary pause to focus before the first note… And then flows the masterpiece!
Approaching my writing keyboard is nothing like that, of course. False starts, discordant notes and incomplete thoughts are what the writing process is composed of.
At a time when the calendar bellows at us that it’s time for a fresh start, many of us are reviewing the raw material of our past year, which perhaps is also characterized by false starts and discordant notes, and attempting to summon meaning and renewed purpose from it all.
For me, a repeating motif of this past year has been the occasions for tears. But wait — before you write me off as a downer, allow me to remind that tears flow in both joys and sorrows. Indeed, both are often mixed in the same tears. Continue reading
Looks like last year’s rhyme applies rather well again to this year…