“But all the same, there’s something about me that doesn’t change, hasn’t changed, through all the remarkable, exciting, alarming, and disappointing transformations my body has gone through. There is a person there who isn’t only what she looks like, and to find her and know her I have to look through, look in, look deep. Not only in space, but in time.”
The Wave in the Mind, Ursula LeGuin
The warm umami flavor of onions and slow-ripened tomatoes frying for an omelet fills the kitchen. Little red beans are steaming their way to a pot of beans for an open table gathering with friends and neighbors. Out of my window I see the Japanese maple has turned blood red. The Hosta’s leaves have lost their brilliant green and are deathly pale yellow. The sun was setting mid afternoon as I raked and gathered the leaves of the Ash tree. No more long gardening hours till 8:00 PM. I get up slowly in the morning and the daylight-savings-fall-back time releases me from guilt when I start my day late. It’s only 8:00 AM! I’m ready to drop guilt at my age. Yet, it’s hard to do so. A life long habit of productive accomplishments has me in the grip of doing, doing. Yet it’s November and the season of hibernating is here.
Curled up in my overstuffed chair I watch the weather do its thing from my window. I’m no longer active in the garden, or on the trail all day; I have time for projects. I’ve scattered photos of summer adventures, printed and enlarged, on my project table waiting for a frame, a place to display. I walk around in my winter cave and see the moments of spring and summer that delighted me and connected me so deeply with nature. Pictures are stories gathered. I’m going on an adventure of finding what lives inside my mind. I look forward to the gift of thought as it transforms my outlook on living.
My brain doesn‘t store completes stories, but it can evoke the building blocks of images, smells and muscle memory and trigger a sentence, a story. Cranking out the words is like turning out the miles on the trail. You start and you don’t know where the train of thought (or the trail) will take you. Discovery is adventure. A plan is a time frame, an idea, and a distant goal.
The act of putting thoughts on the page is transformative. Brain synapses exchange their chemicals and trigger new thoughts that lead to ideas, and sometimes actions. I can watch the thoughts and ideas take shape without writing. As in gardening, planting seeds and watching them grow is fun, but the harvest gives meaning beyond the momentary pleasure of being active in the natural world. When I turn my thoughts into words on the pages, it’s possible for others to read and comment.
Writing is a way of becoming real to others. My thoughts can activate thoughts for you, can cause reflection, new insight and change. By writing and sharing my writing I break out of the solitude that writing requires. It’s a perfect circle, connecting you and me, a wholeness that gives my life meaning.
I’m an old woman living in a cave. I’m listening to my aging body that wants to rest more, reminisce and savor. The drive to produce, nurture, and prove myself has slowed to a trickle with the shrinking of the daylight hours. I relish in meditation time, savor a full-bodied soup, wrap myself in soft blankets and take off for a long sleep every night. This is how I want to end my life. I know I’m only hibernating, but the practice of letting myself slow down is a practice in dying. I look forward to the change of seasons, and I hope to approach the end of my life with the same delight.
While in winter hibernation I’m still creating, as I digest what current life has offered me into a story I can share with my readers. While hibernating I rest my body so the small injuries of the summer trail can heal and I will be ready to do it again next year. As darkness increases, The emptiness expands inside me and leads to that elusive, all-encompassing peace. Winter time is a time to try on the later stages of living, sampling the reduced flow of energy, while knowing the sap will rise again. I’m an old woman, thankful for the season, at peace with her aging body, her slowing mind.