Today is cold. The sky reflects the white of the snow on the ground. At first glance, the day seems monotone and grey but as I stare out the window, I see the ruddy color of the sand and salt that has been layered along the roads, the blue tint of the sky at the edge of the horizon as night prepares to overtake day. A bright red fire hydrant on the corner stands in sharp contrast to the snow, like the fat cardinal hunching against the wind among the bare branches of the tree in our backyard.
Inside our house is warmth and light and a baby that is just beginning to walk. Indeed, four days before reaching ten months, my baby took his very first step. He has taken a handful of independent steps over the past few days and seems alternately delighted and pissed by our attempts to encourage his new skill but giggles effusively when we catch him at the end of his short journeys. Our enthusiasm is contagious. It won’t be too long until he is truly walking but I’m not pushing him. I want to hold on to his babyness for as long as I can.
The holidays left me contentedly exhausted this year. They were wonderful and full- full of warmth and laughter and food and family, noise and chaos, commotion and life. It was fun watching Casey experience the sights, sounds, and textures of his first Christmas. He was engaged with his new toys and enjoyed tearing and shaking the wrapping paper but he especially enjoyed the bows, even as they became stuck to his tiny palms.
The days seemed long but time moved all too rapidly and left me bewildered, blinking into the new year’s light as if emerging onto the platform from a train ride I had slept through. I began the new year feeling overwhelmed with love and gratitude, fear, and open-faced wonderment of what this year may bring. And yet I resolve this year to not let fear rule me; fear of being judged, of failing, of being wrong, moving slowly, looking stupid or seeming ignorant. Wendell Berry writes, “In ignorance there is hope. If we had known the difficulty, we would not have learned even so little…It is ignorance the teachers will come to.” It is the fear of the unknown that makes us rigid in our beliefs and causes us to hold tightly to what we believe to be right even if that belief is flawed or uninformed. I enter this new year open to the possibility that I do not know everything, that I in fact know very little and have a lot to learn from the people that come into my life. This acceptance of my ignorance brings freedom. There is so much to learn and so much room to grow, if you are open to it, and there are teachers all around me including my son, who constantly teaches me patience, tolerance, and how to live in the moment, and my husband who teaches me to be nice, to slow down and really listen, and to deal with unpleasant things promptly rather than putting them off and letting their unpleasantness grow.
This year, there are classes I want to take and things that I wish to accomplish. I have also made a list of books that I want to read. Books, like teachers, often seem to come into our lives at just the right time. Many of the books on my list are ones I read a long time ago, really enjoyed, and want to read again. Some are books I have wanted to read for a while but haven’t read yet and some are books I have randomly selected because something about their descriptions spoke to me. There will also be books added that happen to come along because I remained open to the gifts which they bestow. The Wendell Berry book I quoted earlier, What Are People For?: Essays, is a book which happenstance placed in my lap at just the right moment and it is proving to be a contemplative and thought provoking read. (I’ll start a pinterest board so that anyone who wants to follow along on my literary journey can see what I’ve read.)
My friend Briana is a great lover of words and has made me appreciate good words when I come across them. The other day, the word Alethiology, the study of truth, crossed my path. As in, “This year alethiology shall be my guide.” I constantly strive to discover what my truth is; what is true for me, where I stand on issues I so often feel stuck in the middle on and then how to be strong in my truth in the face of disagreement and fear. The only way I know to continue to discover my truth is to try to stay in the moment and take life as it comes, try to find ways to let go of fear and judgment, and to remain open to learning all I can from the teachers that come into my life.
Happy New Year!