Big swell, two bumps, two hiccups, small swell with steps coming down the other side into a gentle decline. I look at the distant mountains at least twice a day when I feed the animals but I never saw them the way I did this morning.
An icy wind lashed at my legs in the space between my coat and boots. It hit my face like a splash of cold water. My fingertips were already numb in my gloves. I stood there, feeling the cold, and to my surprise, it didn’t feel bad or even uncomfortable. I was in no hurry to get back inside to the warmth of the wood stoves.
Noticing how the cold touched the different parts of my body actually made me feel alive in a completely sensory way.
It was at that moment, when I was so in tune with my own body, that I gave words to the outline of the mountains. And because of that, I feel like I know them a little better.
In the Fall when our neighbors Barbara and Sarah came to help me move gravel into the pole barn Sarah did something that got my attention.
As I was dumping the wheelbarrow full of gravel and Barbara was raking it out Sarah stood, like a picture of a pioneer woman in her long Amish dress, apron and kerchief, leaning on her shovel. She wasn’t just waiting for me to come back to fill up the wheelbarrow again.
I don’t know if she was gazing out or inward, but I thought at that time that she was allowing for nothingness, for the space in between.
Its something I rarely do rushing from one thing to the next. If I come into the house from my studio for a cup of tea I’ll stoke the woodstoves or sweep the floor while the water is boiling.
Is it that I don’t want to waste a minute? Am I really that busy? I think I’m more afraid of the silence. Of where my mind will go when I stop, even for just a minute or two.
And that made me wonder what is in my mind that is so scary I don’t want to even think it.
In the past, many things frightened me. Ordinary things like getting the mail or going to work on a Monday. And my past was filled with memories I didn’t want to revisit. But I’ve dealt with so many of them they rarely haunt me anymore.
My anxiety is focused mostly around my original family and the less contact I have with them the less anxiety I feel.
It’s only as I write this that I realize I don’t have anything to fear from what may enter my mind. So maybe I’m ready for more moments like this morning, those spaces in between, where I can just be.
If what I experienced today, with the cold and the mountains, is an indication of the deeper level of knowledge of myself and the beings around me I can achieve, it is worth doing.
But stopping a lifelong habit doesn’t just happen. I’ll have to work on it, to remind myself to take those moments of nothingness.
And the image of Sarah leaning on her shovel is a wonderful way to remember.