In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary. – Aaron Rose
Weekly Writing Mantra: I look closely and observe carefully.
It’s hard to believe that we’re already firmly into 2022. For me, the past two years have passed as if they were a dream.
Measuring By The Meme
Someone recently posted the meme photo of Bernie Sanders at the inauguration—the one in which he sits on a folding chair in a bulky Vermont winter coat, medical mask over his face and his hands, warm in hand-knit mittens, folded across his knees. “Not to say that this has been a long year,” read the caption, “but this photo was taken eleven months ago.”
It feels like an eternity.
And yet even the disappointments have yielded some unexpected benefits. At the beginning of the pandemic, I canceled a planned family trip to Disney World. This past June, in the space between the vaccination of everyone in my household and the onset of the Delta Variant, I rescheduled the trip.
I canceled it once again at the beginning of December. I realize that this cancellation was extremely small potatoes. There are almost a million people who have lost their lives in this pandemic, and countless more who are suffering the effects of the virus. I’m incredibly grateful that my family and I have remained physically healthy throughout this time.
Still, it was a disappointment for us. It has been two years with very little to look forward to, and we had been looking forward to this.
I was determined to turn our forced staycation into something that held meaning and memories for us. I scoured the internet for fun, local, outdoor things to do and came across Christmas by Candlelight at Old Sturbridge Village.
The village is something akin to Colonial Williamsburg—it’s a recreated “living” exhibit of life in New England circa 1830, complete with working blacksmiths, tinsmiths, weavers, bakers, horse-drawn carriages, etc. The people who work there are costumed accurately and very knowledgeable about life in the mid-nineteenth century.
The village is wisely “accurate” in the places one would want, and less so in places you don’t. Buildings are heated, toilets flush, and one can get a cup of coffee or hot cocoa. We went as the sun was sinking in the sky and stayed until after dark to see the village outfitted with a combination of candles in lamps and modern fairy lights.
As we walked around the village in the twilight, the air was chilly, but not cold, and the air was full of mist just turning to rain. Three chickens broke out of their pen and dashed across the dirt road, presumably to get to the other side. A large bonfire glowed on the town green while a fiddle and cello played in the steepled white meetinghouse. It was peaceful as the lights glowed around the edge of the village.
My daughter and niece, who had given up their much-anticipated trip to Disney World, beamed as they made their way toward an exhibit of Christmas decorations from different 19th Century decades. This is what making lemonade looks like.
The Art Of Paying Attention
At the end of a long year, as we turn another page in the continuing pandemic chapter of our own personal stories, it’s important to stop and look around, to notice the way the light catches on a branch or glows, calling us through the darkness. Writing is how we pay attention, and how we hold onto these moments where emotion lives.
I don’t know what the year holds, but I know that it will take patience, compassion, discipline, and attention to make it matter. And I know that our writing will hold us, and buoy us through the water no matter the weather.