Here was the spring of the crayon box, the home for dreams (with a too-small kitchen and not enough closet space but with a garden where I can practice my hope). We painted the walls in absolutely-not-neutral, totally-joyful hues reminiscent of a kindergarten classroom. We mingled the art. We shuffled the books. We climb into bed with a large cat and a small dog, and the tall man with the long arms takes up the least amount of room somehow.
And here was an autumn of my shadows, a place with flickering light and grotesque scrawlings on water-damaged walls. It was a cold place full of discarded objects that I picked up and scrutinized and carefully tucked into my bag of broken things. Only I could venture into this deep darkness; I called out signals of “Still alive!” when I could and tugged at the thread around my waist with the faith that a bell would ring for someone at the other end. And I emerged with my collection of disasters and a cultivated gentleness.
Here was a year of deepening and widening, of bearing down and birthing; and here was a year of planting seeds centimeters below the earth and watching victorious tendrils poke through. What a miracle growth is.
I thought at one point that I was not addicted to busyness, that it was only that my job forced me to work hours upon hours outside of my salaried schedule. I thought, that if I could, I would be happy to recline on the sofa and enjoy filling my days with books, cats, and gardens. I thought that I would gladly kiss busy goodbye and embrace quiet stillness.
I certainly do not like the pressure of juggling obligations and deadlines, but if I am being honest with myself, I turn into a basket case as soon as I sit down with a blank agenda. This is how I ended up with a job that filled my one precious empty morning each week last semester and how I very nearly ended up teaching every weekend. My partner is a gentle man who never tries to bend me into someone I am not, but every so often he will remind me of a wish I spoke aloud for simplicity and rest. And then I inevitably (if sheepishly) explain why it is that, despite everyone’s encouragement to grad students in my program to take winter break off, it is essential that I go into field on my free days.
Perhaps I am, like my father once suggested to my undoubtedly balking face, a workaholic. But maybe I’m a workaholic moving out of the contemplation stage and into the preparation stage for change. It is true that I am anxious without activity, but it is also true that I do deeply desire room in my days for mindfulness, wonder, and reflection. And I can’t obsessively chase every obligation and have the space for these things that I value.
This is where it starts: today, I seek wonder and peace. This is not a New Year’s Resolution.