When an animal, a rabbit, say, beds down in a protecting fencerow, the weight and warmth of his curled body leaves a mirroring mark upon the ground. This soft bowl in the grasses, this body-formed evidence of hare, has a name, an obsolete but beautiful word: meuse. (Enticingly close to Muse, daughter of Memory, and source of inspiration.) Each of us leaves evidence on the earth that in various ways bears our form.
| Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
Now and then when I find myself forgetting to celebrate life, unmindful of the way embracing death can heighten and enhance the way I interact with the world, I take time to think about whether I would be at peace knowing that I left someone without saying what’s in my heart, that I left with harsh words. I try daily to learn to leave folks as though we might never be meeting again. This practice makes us change how we talk and interact. It is a way to live consciously.
i have an old tradition i have not kept up in recent years. when i was younger i decided that instead of resolutions, i would pick a word to work towards in the new year. something all-encompassing that sets my intentions for all i do. my mama even started to partake in it herself, and i began to help her choose her own word every january. i remember one year my word was change, and another year it was something along the lines of tangibility or certainty. well, i have one again. play. my goal of 2022 is to learn to center play and fun again. how do these things even get out of reach? and how do we remind ourselves of them, that we are worthy of them, that we are still just as capable of them?
I find big music helps at fateful times. Rachmaninov is good when the news is bad, Mahler also works. Poetry helps and I have turned, in recent days, to the religious work of John Donne, George Herbert and Henry Vaughan. But I also get bored with big thoughts and that point of boredom is the moment I am looking for—when I want a Cary Grant film. In the first days of locking down, I felt as you do after trauma: language was no use to me. It has come back slowly, because it always does. I know this and I trust it. Meanwhile, I do not try to push a broken machine. I wait for boredom to kick in because boredom, for me, is a very good sign. It is the beginning of pleasure.