Not sure why specifically but I guess it’s the whole stinking pot of shit news that’s got me remembering icons. The great ones, who touch down for short snippets of time to do good for the planet. You know the type, those who cure, not infect. Not as almighty as the Christ or as grandiose as an übermensch, but ordinary folks who strive and march and work tirelessly for the betterment of other ordinary folks. I don’t know if those people just don’t make the headlines anymore or can’t yell over the frenzied hype, but I am desperate for their comfort, their strength and their vision. Desperate for those who can lead us out of the status quo state of collusion, corruption and chaos.
There is a cut-your-own tradition in Vermont with Christmas trees. Decades ago when my family first started to have Thanksgiving here, we’d tag our tree during that long weekend. Then, weeks later, we’d head back to the farm, with sled in tow and saw in hand, we’d try to find our special tree. There were years when we’d have to trudge through feet of snow, and on hands and knees, dig our way down to find the trunk. Frozen fingers wrapped around the saw we’d tug back and forth until it was cut through. Oh those fresh trees would fill the house with everything Christmas. Sweet pine. Cold air and snow. Even the mountain view came into our living room with that smell.
Tis the season of food drives and toy drives and considering those less fortunate than ourselves. It is the season of counting your blessing and sharing your riches. Time to watch out for those who need our care, and that extends to those minute song birds that stay through the winter months.
This week I wrestled with post-holiday blues and in this quiet time I recall those no longer here. Those shiny, vibrant beings who escaped their earthly bodies to dance with stars. Or at least that’s what I imagine tonight. I mean, if I can’t share a bottle of champagne with my mother anymore, at least I can presume she is doing something fabulous, starry even, right? As my eye drifts out the picture window at the endless snow falling, I hear her ringing laughter, for she adored the holiday season, skating full force from one glittery gathering to the next without pause.
One of Vermont’s biggest strengths, in my view, is that it’s a place of tradition and a place of change: from legendary apple pies to snappy hard cider. A place with morals that allow for an expanse on the definition: Christian ministers perform same-sex marriage here. A state with an elected Republican Governor, Democratic Senators and Independents sprinkled throughout. People vote for people here, not party. People listen to debates or town hall meetings or their neighbors to get a full picture of the candidates. Political advertisements are a rarity, because Vermonters aren’t dazzled by sound bites. Maybe you feel the same about your community?
What makes creativity happen for you? That thing that gets you to a place where beyond fades in opaque light, just light, that when brush hits canvas or clay first forms or beads reorder in a new order or beats just tap themselves out or the pencil flies across the page, and beyond this spark of creation lays nothing you care for, like the crumpled sheets pushed aside in the night so you now lay exposed under the hot light of imagination. Consumed. You write. You don’t give a hoot about where you’ll end up on the continuum you just have to keep on moving toward that something. You make space for it, like every Thursday night you sit while the stream streams, and all that other stuff fades, the very stuff that might have made you cry or driven you crazy or made you cold just melts like July does on your back deck. And if you don’t write or paint or drum or dance or let yourself enter that space, then, well then something awful happens and you collapse, maybe you just shout or find yourself watching the evening commentary show that has replaced actual news, and you then, without much provocation, are on Twitter, scrolling through hundreds of characters issued by people who can’t talk to each other only at each other. You start to obsess.
Without fail, on certain days, I find myself measuring myself against the giants, those who trod across uncertain landscapes firmly and with certainty, ease. I know I shouldn’t, but it has always been my cross, to want more. I’m not sure I can blame my parents for this one, maybe it was their post-depression dreams feed to me with all they believed possible, men reaching for the moon, a culture breaking sexual taboos and racial barriers, and seeing a world rebuild after war. Today I attempt to content myself by focusing on the little stuff. Finding the joy that nature brings. Taking a moment to look up at the blue or remembering to look down, to really see what’s here and now.