Very few things went “right” this year for a lot of people.
It’s been a year that has shaken us all out of our routines and forced me to love my home despite the floors than need refinishing and the flooded basement. I count myself lucky to have come through 2020 relatively unscathed.
I know this is the time of year where people traditionally make resolutions, set intentions, and plot out how they want the new year to unfold. I won’t be doing that this year. I may never do it again.
“Things will work out,” my Mom used to tell me when I got upset over things I couldn’t control. How can she be so sure?
She didn’t really know. Yet, despite her not knowing the English language very well, never having driven a car, and being used to living in the city, she married my dad and moved to the woods of Connecticut. That was 1967. They are still married. Things worked out.
And her mother didn’t know either. She had three children during World War II in the Netherlands, and endured her husband being taken away by the SS to a work camp. She endured and he came back. Sometimes things really work out.
I’ve come to understand that things will work out the way they will work out. Acceptance is the path of least resistance.
And a few things actually did work out this year.
After a slight delay at an auto shop in Laurel, Maryland and some new brakes… I made it to Connecticut to visit my parents for Christmas. This was not without its challenges. I traveled with my kitten, Captain Pickles because I feared leaving her alone for a few days would render my couch a pile of upholstery shredded to bits.
We made it to Baltimore before the howling and other feine-in-distress sounds started. They were so piercing that I missed my exit off of 295 and ended up in a sketchy warehouse district.
As I idled by the welding shop on the side of the road, I made an executive decision. She was to roam free in the car. A bold move. I had decided that Things will work out.
After 20 minutes of exploring and crawling under the seats, she settled into my lap. She stayed curled up on my lap through all of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. Things worked out.
Things really worked out a day later when my Mom started hollering for me to come to the window!!!
There, in the dusk of the backyard were three black bears. A momma and her two almost full grown cubs.
I had been waiting almost five years to see the infamous bears that roam the hilly and woody terrain of my parents neighborhood.
I almost didn’t believe they existed.
But there they were. A magical Christmas gift for me, Captain Pickles, and my parents. We all stood watching safely from the window as they approached the bird feeders.
My father made a clanking noise with a wooden stick on the tile floor. The sound was enough to deter Mamma from going any further towards the feeders. She turned around and walked back towards the woods. Her two cubs diligently followed her.
This year there has been a lot of uncertainty. But things worked out. So, instead of a grand list of things I’d like to accomplish in 2021 or a resolution for grander things, I’m going to stick with: Things will work out the way they will work out.
That’s where the adventure is anyway.
Happy New Year’s Everyone.
Today is Thanksgiving. I am deeply grateful for the air I breathe and the freedom it affords me to keep gliding through life's currents.
This year I learned about traveling sand from an ancient ocean floor —now the Sahara Desert— that makes its way from Africa to far away places via air currents. Wind carries the sand eastward from the Sahara across Europe, across the Atlantic Ocean, all the way to Austin, Texas.
Tiny minerals from the desert touch down in Texas Hill Country and settle in to the local scrub brush. Sand hovering in the air causes a plume of dust, creating magical sunsets for a few weeks.
When I read about this, the thought of the tiny bits of Africa in Austin warmed my heart. Everything really is interconnected, I thought.
Freedom to Fly
I was reminded again of the magic of air currents a few months ago, when I was riding my bike along the Anacostia River trail. This is one of my favorite things to do, as riding a bike often makes me feel as if I can fly (more on this to come).
I was headed north along the trail and had just crossed over the bridge that hovers above Watt’s Branch stream. Maybe it was the blue of the sky or the missing clouds that day… but as I approached the wide open marshy field ahead of me, I looked up.
Above me, gliding ever so effortlessly, was a bald eagle. Once almost extinct, these magnificently large birds can now frequently be seen along the river. I stopped riding, pulled over along the edge of the field, and watched her fly for a bit.
Finding Connection Through Breath
This year, COVID 19 has made me very much aware of the air I breathe, the oxygen I need to keep my body alive, and the shared space that air claims. Air is everywhere at once, all around us, within us, and between us. It permeates everything. And it is a necessity for life.
I have been blessed with two perfectly well functioning lungs. When I took yoga classes many years ago, I was stunned to discover that my breathing was rather shallow. Yoga taught me how to breath. I learned how to deeply inhale and exhale, and to take my time. I also discovered that my body felt more relaxed and my mind more alert when I did this.
If I find myself anxious, a few deep breaths can bring me back to the present moment. And if I continue this, the breathing moves me towards something greater than myself. To a mystery that can not be explained, but can be seen as tiny bits of sand from Africa tucking themselves into the terrain of Texas.
Many of this year lost people, jobs, routines, or sometimes just our sanity. I am so very grateful that the winds of change shifted for me and created space and time for me. The opening has allowed me to breath even more deeply. And to imagine what would happen if we all stopped for just a few moments to watch eagles soar, to slow our breathing down, to feel the wind blowing, and the clouds passing by.
Looking at the world from above the fray. Houkje writes about following her intuition, observerations on the magic of the natural world, and navigating creativity and chaos in an uncertain world.