Friday Musings: Morning Star

Friday Musings: Morning Star

I think there are few people who would argue with the statement that we are currently living through a time of unprecedented difficulty. As we close in on the 2-year anniversary of the first U.S. Covid cases, we still find ourselves in a kind of holding pattern, circling the airport, waiting to learn what the future will bring. The greatest unanswered question, arguably, revolves around the concept of returning to normalcy. Now don’t get me wrong, I know that it’s better to be safe than sorry. That’s been my position right from the start. Nevertheless, I think that one of the things we can all universally agree on is that we miss human interaction and the human experiences that appeal to our sense of aesthetics. This pandemic has required periods of isolation and restriction, many of which we thought were behind us, but this recent surge feels eerily reminiscent of early 2020. From everything we’re being told, we are NOT back in that place, but it’s certainly easy to understand why we might feel that way. The bottom line is that when human beings spend too much time alone, unable to be a part of the world, a kind of sensory deprivation begins to occur that can leave us feeling emotionally drained. We are, after all, very social creatures, and we have a certain craving for interaction, connection, and shared moments of grace at a collective level. Without these things, we are greatly changed.

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Friday Musings: Midwinter in Our Souls

Friday Musings: Midwinter in Our Souls

I have a certain affection for the word midwinter. It has always helped me to verbalize this period that comes after Christmas when we are in post-celebratory mode, and the world has become a much quieter, introverted version of the one we left behind in December. As it turns out, the term midwinter is actually synonymous with the winter solstice, so it seems as though my thinking may have been a little bit off, at least in terms of timing. Maybe not in terms of sentiment, though, if we consider the opening lines of In the Bleak Midwinter, a Christmas poem written in 1872 by Christina Rossetti and set to music by Gustav Holst:

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Friday Musings: Ignition Point

Friday Musings: Ignition Point

In last Friday’s post, I talked about a particular sense of calm that comes on Christmas Eve that presents us with the opportunity to find a moment of deep peace and joy. This year, I felt as though that moment came to me more easily, maybe because I’d shared the idea of it with all of you, or because the actual process of writing tends to make me more open to possibilities. In either case, I walked into Zachary’s house feeling very zen and ready to take on the Seven Fishes. Things were going along swimmingly (awful pun intended) until we set a baking sheet of kale on fire in the oven. Notice the calm spirit in which I write that sentence. Now, those of you who follow me know that this is not my first fiery rodeo in the kitchen. A few years ago, we had a similar mishap during which a tray of chopped pecans entered the oven as a potential cake garnish, only to emerge as a pile of ash reminiscent of the apocalypse. Needless to say, the kale suffered a similar fate. The first time around we did absolutely everything wrong in “handling” the fire; in fact, our behavior could have easily been made into a “How NOT to Act” fire safety video. What was our biggest mistake? Ah well, we opened the oven door, of course, and the fire became an inferno. This time when Zachary reached in that same direction, I stopped him. We turned off the oven, shooed everyone out of the house, and we watched the fire burn out and die.

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Friday Musings: Tu Me Manques

Friday Musings: Tu Me Manques

In my last post, I talked about the idea of a certain balance point filled with potential that exists between movement and stillness. Since then, I made a promise to myself that I would diligently try to watch for examples of such moments in my own daily life, however I think I may have picked a bad week to get started. What was I thinking? I’m sure that most of you will agree with me in saying that there’s no problem finding movement during the holiday season, but stillness can be somewhat elusive. It was a little discouraging, but then I remembered that there is an almost magical moment of calm that descends upon my world every Christmas Eve. Have you had that same experience? It happens late in the afternoon, just as the sun is setting, right before dinnertime. Up until that point, we have been rushing here, there, and everywhere, shopping, and working, or finishing up school or exams, but we’ve finally reached the end. The stores are closed, we’re on vacation, and all the grades are in. It’s time to get started on the Seven Fishes, or whatever your family’s tradition may be. In recent years, this moment usually finds me just pulling up in front of my son Zach’s house. His street is oddly quiet, and the sky is that shade of chilly pink that belongs only to a winter sunset, but there are lights on in all the houses, and there is woodsmoke in the air.

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Friday Musings: Fulcrum

Friday Musings: Fulcrum

It would be remiss of me to just begin again without some sort of an explanation as to where I’ve been. The truth is that there’s not a satisfying answer. I paused my writing for a while, always with the intention to return. I became busy with work that included making many cocktails, and with life, and I felt time passing, and I wondered if I’d ever be able to find my way back. I always expected that the urge to write again would come as a whisper in my ear, or a gentle nudge, but when it arrived a short while ago, it came as a full-on, handprints-on-my-back shove. In other words, it was not to be ignored. And so here I am telling you that I’d love to spend Friday mornings with you once again, if you’ll have me back. I truly hope you will…

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