February 18, 2015

bon hiver

I have always loved winter, and it's only recently that I have realized that's a statement of privilege.  My lights turn on in the long dark nights, I don't worry about whether I'll be able to pay to keep the heat running, and I'm not lacking in tough boots and warm woolen layers. I'm safe and comfortable, knowing I have a haven from winter when it settles in, temporarily snuffing out all the life around me. I'm lucky that it has never been a threat with real teeth.

It's true that life is easier at the opposite end of the season spectrum. But it's the sense of urgency that winter imposes that I thrill to. It's a unique satisfaction to pile on layers of clothing and make the trek to the brewery around the corner, walking quickly because, despite my best efforts, the cold is steadily seeping under my coat. It's a relief to barrel through the doors, shed the layers, and unwind the tightness in my shoulders that kept them unconsciously tethered to my ears for the whole walk. Before long, the only sensation of cold left in my body just clings faintly to my cheeks and fingertips.

It reassures me that I'm whole and alive, and that my biology does what it's built to do; a remarkable feat in such a contrary environment. There are plenty of other parts of winter that I love, too--the beauty, the hush, the cleansing of it--but it's the life spark that it triggers in my gut and lungs and numbed cheeks that I would so miss if I lived somewhere without winter.

February 8, 2015

My Dog is Better at Life than I Am

My dog is growing old, right before my eyes. There's something surreal about watching the whole life cycle of another creature you care about. People never witness each other's bookends of life; we just catch segments that are sometimes the beginnings or endings. Never the whole thing. But somehow, time drifted by and now my dog is a little whiter of paw, a little weaker of hindquarters.

What is wonderful and heartbreaking about this is that he isn't aware that he's aging. He has naturally made some adjustments for his limitations, but really, in his heart, he fully believes he can run ten miles without stopping--leaping and twisting in the air to snatch a tennis ball as he used to do. And even after he comes crashing down in a spectacular failure, he still scrambles to his feet, prepared to hurtle onwards.

He's always been that way, completely engaged in the moment of pursuit and unhindered by any other elements. As someone who goes through life painfully self-conscious and too, too worried about the anonymous world's assessment of me, I totally envy and admire this innate talent he has. The only self-awareness he has involves deploying his chasing and catching skills, and returning the ball to any human who will humor him. (Including tiny humans who haven't the motor skills to humor him just yet.)

His life might be too short for me, but nobody can say he didn't make the most of it. He has lived firmly in each moment, and let his feet take flight when they wished, without fear or a second thought.