The simple act of replacing the calendar, changing the number we write on our personal checks or type on our business memos from 11 to 12. That’s it, nothing more. Except what we make of it. A big deal. A time of reflection.
I’m never one for resolutions, but big on reflections. This year I attempt to reflect less on the past, more on choices, paths, futures. Directions. But I have no crystal ball. Unable to look ahead, uncertain of the here and now, I find myself reluctantly turning back. Reflecting on the past. It’s comfortable, safe, known.
And confusing, because memory distorts the past. I forget sometimes why I left.
The big move. It was going to bring me to a new wild world. Raw land, and an open canvas, a new life unfolding, unfurling, one grain of sand at a time. I anticipated a deep relationship beginning, blossoming. The slow initiation. Two fresh lovers unsure of one another, eager, reaching, curious, tasting, touching.
We leaped; a net appeared.
The jump itself is exhilarating. Then the dust settles and we look around and try to make sense of where we are.
I return from a snowshoe where I crossed over others tracks. In hopes of not disturbing the skier’s lines, I found myself post holing on the side hill. I don’t understand the etiquette yet. Every place has a different set of rules.
I’m used to being alone. My tracks. My rules. As selfish as it seems. It is what I was used to. I shared those little lines about the mountain set by my humble snowshoes quite happily with the coyote and bobcat and fox and martin, and grumbled under my breath when the moose chose my path, punching deep holes, long strides, just wide enough for my snowshoes to tip over and suck me in to some great white abyss.
Was it last year I went three months without leaving the mountains, and saw eight people all winter? And I was content.
Careful what you ask for. After years of spending isolated winters or summers with Mother-in-law-from-hell and her entourage, small but damaging as it was, I said I wanted neighbors, good neighbors. Now I have them. I have met more caring, interesting, involved, active neighbors in one month than I met in ten years in Colorado. Mind you, they are closer here. But I’m certain it’s more a matter of attitude, not distance.
And yet, already I see that wonderful as this is, it’s not the life for me. A social life. My hermit ways are only growing stronger, more defined. I hear them now clearly, growling, snarling, sneering and threatening to rebel.
When out of one’s element, by necessity perhaps, we learn to define who and what we are. What matters most. What parts of the past have formed us and do we allow to carry through into our futures?
I am missing my hermit ways. You can adjust, loved ones have assured me, to a social situation. Yes, I can adjust, but do I thrive? Like a wild cat in a zoo? Is captivity the best choice?
It’s no big deal, I tell myself. Then why do I feel distraught? My eyes are burning and wet but refuse to shed a tear. There is nothing wrong and yet nothing feels quite right.
Perhaps when my horses are here, though even then I shall find myself a hobby horsewoman having horses without horse work. Another part of the definition I had formed for myself that was left behind.
And the greatest part of me left behind? The deep wilds. And my part in them. My connection to them. I turned my back and walked away. Severed the cord. And find myself left like a babe learning to breathe.
Perhaps I can learn to breathe here. Deeper, richer, fuller than the thin air of the high mountains.
In the meanwhile, I feel somehow empty. Gasping for breath. That fish out of water.
And find my mind, without the connection with the wilds around me, resembles a blank canvas, an empty page. There is a hollow void.
The choice, then, is how I choose to fill it.
Or leave it sparse, and turn the page.