This winter was, for most of us, what my wise mother would have aptly described as “a long-ass haul.” No snow for Christmas, but plenty in March. Temps so low outside that the dogs’ breath crystallized at first pant. Days as brief and dark as a Kafka short story. Seriously. It’s good to finally be looking at winter mostly from the rear-view mirror now. So damn good.
I came into the world old. By that, I don’t mean an old, wise soul. I mean a child who was, from the beginning, overly familiar with death. By the time that I, the youngest child of a second marriage was born, my old father was on his way to dying and my young mother was in the deep end of the ocean caring for him.
We wait for the better thing that is just beyond our reach, that great good thing that will finally make us happy and whole. We are more than willing to wait for it, even though it take a lifetime. The thing is, waiting to fully live until the right set of circumstances comes along is like waiting for a pie to cook without ever turning on the oven. It takes some heat to get the gold, on a pie or in a life.
Some moments in life shake you to your core and take your breath away. In these moments, the only way out is to find a path through. If you’re a hiker, then you know if you ever find yourself lost in the woods, you should almost always seek to take the path of least resistance to conserve energy and strength. This means stepping over, not up, walking around and not scaling whatever obstacles you encounter.
As I settled into the idea of simply listening instead of demanding to hear what I expected, a space opened up for a new sound to come. It was low at first, and quiet, but as my ear tuned to a new frequency, I heard it clearly. It was the sound of the whoosh of life, as strong and sure as the spring current flowing across the paddle of a kayak, constant as the river that holds the kayaker and his dream.