This time last year I had hiked the footpath down to South Creek. Even in the winter, the waters manage to flow while all life around it is frozen and dormant. With the coniferous trees, the buried small rodents, and the face of the cliff as witness, I casted expired cleansing salts from my grandfather’s house into the creek. Then, as I decided to rid myself of my indecision and stagnancy, I had begun to confide my existential queries with the creek, in a sound much like a terrible cry, of what I should be doing in this world. My echo had caught the attention of the rocks and the cliff and the plants, still cold and frozen from that morning. My own uncertainty was echoed back to me in the notion of some chorus. The response, in and odd sense, was reassuring and inspiring. Reassuring in the sense that neither the trees nor the frozen soil knew what they were doing with their life. Inspiring, however, that their uncertainty did not stop them from their work.
Today, I took the short path to the arroyo behind the farm. No longer now at South Creek but at a farm in Northern New Mexico. I carried a wishing rock that I found to cast in the water, a river-rounded stone with a solid white line that encircled the median. I carried a hollowed cavity left wide open in my body somewhere. With much effort and little success, I have tired over the past few years trying to identify where that gap is in my body or how to serve it. Defeated and apathetic, at times exhausted physically and having no patience to let myself feel empty, I use food to dampen its deep echo or hot coffee to warm its cold barrenness. I may not be living the life I want; I am trying.
Before casting the stone in the arroyo water, I thought of my grandmother, my teacher at South Creek, and mother and her musings regarding January. It must have been new insight, but Mom has mentioned more than once how January is a time of rest after such a flurry of activity. Starting in October and on into New Year’s, if the Western New York snow didn’t slow us down, the emotional drain of family, obligations, darkness and cold will. January is a time to prepare for the future, to make space by letting go, by looking back and learning, realizing, how deep the well of the soul is, and how much space you have to offer in this new year—
January knows your bones,
knows it does not need to ask of you
to know right now, but to how
to make room:
To sit and to listen,
to wonder and to ask
of those things that invite us
to learn, and know so well of ourselves;
the inescapable yet lovely truth of
ourselves and our bones.
Casting the wishing rock into the arroyo, I wished for certainty—a usual cliché. But as I listened to the rocks, the water, and the trees, I realize again and again that certainty comes from making room and moving on, much like the creek waters. It may be some fear that I hold onto that keeps me still but courage tells me to let go.
I have always thought that I felt older in January because of my birthday but time doesn’t grow us up; it is the knowing of the self that we associate with growing. Know your bones, make yourself strong by them.