A friend tells me about a lovely offering during the month of December. I sign up, I am eager. On day four, I fall behind. I try to practice what I preach when working with my own students: there is no ‘behind’; take things in the way that works for you; it’s okay to work in another way from the one that’s suggested. But what if what works is to ditch the effort completely? What if what works is to leave something beautiful behind? This is not always easy. Sometimes, though, it’s necessary.
I get the shingles vaccine and am prepared to feel a little off. I am not prepared, however, to feel awful. I am headachey and body-achey and prickly-skinned. I lie on the sofa for two days. My daughter makes me tea. I take baths each afternoon because the evening is too far away. On the third day, we take a short walk. It begins to pass. I know these awful aches are better than an actual case, and I try not to think ahead to the eventual second dose. For now, comfy clothes, blankets, tea, a good book, and time.
I talk with my sisters on Zoom and it’s lovely to see their faces. I’m feeling better by this point in the week, have managed a shower first thing in the morning, wear jeans instead of sweats. It’s good to catch up, good to see and hear and listen, to gather, even in this way.
It’s a week of walking alongside (and holding space for) fellow list writers. These women, these students, these writers fill me up every time. They open their hearts to what I share, they hold it to the light, they are brave and game for anything. Sometimes a prompt lands sideways for them but they pick it up and run with it. They are all in and I love them for this. They know it’s okay to work in whatever way feels best for them, and they do it. They reflect back to me the reminder I need this week.
I leave something behind. I step fully into what is already here. I am shingles-free and at peace.
I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief…
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
~ Wendell Berry ~