I was given this assignment by a board member, a fun project reflecting on a poem by Wislawa Szymborska, Possibilities.
I prefer optimism.
I prefer to believe the best.
I prefer to look on the sunny side, though I sometimes prefer overcast skies.
I prefer being cozy.
I prefer the soft scratch of dog toes and the pillowy underbelly of a cat.
I prefer the warm breath of companionship.
I prefer to sometimes be alone.
I prefer mountains.
I prefer the ocean.
I prefer Big Sur over almost any other place.
I prefer the scent of eucalyptus, rosemary, and cedar.
I prefer to love.
I prefer empathy to sympathy.
I prefer to sit in the front row in classes, the back row in concerts, the middle in theatres and busses.
I prefer sweaters and incense.
(In summers, I prefer linen and flowers.)
I prefer that my mind remain changeable.
I prefer being myself.
I prefer a small, quiet room.
I prefer to let myself fill the nooks and crannies, to take up space.
I prefer doing to thinking.
(But I like thinking, too. Sometimes I prefer thinking, either silently or aloud.)
I prefer kindness above everything.
I prefer peace.
Have you ever swum in the ocean where it’s just a little too deep or there’s a little rip tide, and you’re a little too tired, and you try to keep up, but you just can’t, and finally you lean back and realize that you can just float?
That’s me. That’s what I’ve been doing lately.
I spent my first 18 months in San Diego paddling for dear life, feeling like I was getting nowhere. And finally, in November, I tilted my head back and started to float.
What a difference it makes to float! Why did I resist it for so long? I suppose it felt too passive, too inactive. And yet, I forgot that floating engaged your core. I forgot that it lifts you and soothes you, but that you still have to actively participate. And I’m not working so damn hard to stay above water.
And I guess it feels a bit like I could actually start paddling again, but maybe not straight against the tide. Maybe sideways.
So, here’s to paddling sideways, and maybe floating a little more. After all, the water’s fine.
He prances around, his stubby tail contrasted by his crazy long legs, shimmying his booty like a total pro. He’s mostly figured out peeing outside, and is starting (KNOCK ON WOOD) to hate his crate less. He chases the cats, much to my chagrin… we’re working on it, and trying to divide our time between the two Tiny Animal Factions. He’s adorable, and awesome, and totally exhausting. I accidentally dropped some roasted chicken on the floor tonight during dinner prep, and he has been INTOLERABLE since his first taste. I think we’ll keep him.
Guess who is coming to live with us next week?
For the past two years, I’ve spent the days between Christmas and January 1 working on Susannah Conway‘s wonderful Unraveling the Year Ahead workbook. It’s a great ritual, and I found it so helpful to check in with my plans and goals last year, especially when things felt muddy. My 2015 word, “lighten,” was a lens through which I could view my experiences, my feelings, my reactions.
This year, my word is “thrive.” As I said to a friend last week, this is the year for getting my roots in the ground, pruning back the less healthy branches and nurturing the healthiest ones. This time next year, I want to be strong and vibrant and confident again. I want to have a stronger spine.
David Bowie died yesterday, and the whole world is mourning. All I can think about is the sheer luck of being on the planet during the time that I’m on the planet. I shared the existing pool of oxygen with David Bowie, with Oliver Sacks, with so many brilliant, shining people. If that’s not a reason to grow where I’m planted, I don’t know what is.