“As long as it’s a regular day, not too rough to begin with, the ocean is pretty smooth once you make it out past the first set of waves. That’s why people are afriad to swim in the ocean. They try to jump over those waves and get slammed down to the bottom and pulled across the sand like a piece of shell. You’ve got to go throught them, dive under just when they’re rising up for you, set your direction, close your eyes, and just swim like hell. Once you get throught that, you’ll find there isn’t a better place for swimming because it’s the ocean and it goes on forever.
― Ann Patchett
I woke up early today, got dressed to feed the critters, and while wheelbarrowing over to the barn I noticed one of our windows from the wedding was on the ground, collecting shards of fallen icicles. Under it was a mouse, fearfully circling where it had nested and clawing its way under my boot. How naive, like a deer looking to a hunter for refuge. I lifted my toe until the dogs passed by and she or he scurried to safety under our horse trailer.
The promise of a New Year comes at the most opportune time. For me, it always seems to come as a life raft of sorts―a light of renewal, hope, a fresh start―during the depths of winter. The holidays are gone, the cold is still here, the work week resumes, and I’m hopeful that this will be the year where everything gets better, even if it’s not wrecked.
And yet, having a hopeful heart isn’t always without punishment. There’ll sometimes be that squall with a family member (one week into the New Year!), tears shed over something from the past, love loss, tragedy, sacrifice. I feel so sorry for our country, having carried so much hurt throughout this year and yet, also having to carry the burden of hope despite all things. We’re a little bruised, a little vulnerable, lashing out via social media and “unfriending” folks for some misdirected thing they said. It recalls a quote: It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.
And maybe that’s the truth― the end of the story for 2017. My favorite stories never have perfect endings.
Today, I’m headed to the grocery store to fuel up with more greens and less sugar. I’m cleaning the house and working in my office, and excitedly, I’m continuing progress on my very first book―a work of fiction. There have been dozens that lived a short life, but this one feels different. Maybe it’s the one.
See you on the other side, readers.