It is that time of the year to reflect and, regardless of whether one likes to partition life into time segments like years, I think it’s useful to have a time of year to do real reflection on the past and to renew hope for the future. I love this time of year. It means I get to see my family soon, at least some of them, and some of them is good enough. We will meet in southern California in just a little over two weeks.
Today I am coming back around to normal after about a little more than a week of flu and cold. It’s the first time I’ve been really sick for almost two years, so my running and workouts suffered, but today I went back to the gym for catch-up and then tomorrow my first December run. I will go back to that wonderful frosty trail I discovered recently. Though now we are very rainy instead of clear and cold.
Today I’m also listening to a legacy of Turlough O’Carolan, a blind Irish harper, from long ago. I was tasked to to have some kind of holiday music today at our office, and, tired of the obnoxious Christmas songs, I had chosen some acoustic guitar songs until one of our instructors turned me onto this. The instructor is from Ireland and has been giving me tips of where to visit–as next summer we will take my mother there. It has always been her dream to go there. Her ancestors are mostly from Ireland or Scotland (a photo of her parents, my grandparents, is here):
This music has prompted many memories–moments–from this past year. It is the first full year of running, having started to run slightly before the start of 2015. A flash of moments slides through my head: getting up very early to beat the heat for months on end, getting splashed by cars during incredible rain runs, seeing a large rock in the sea about 8K in during the Great Climate Race and it being so wonderful right in that moment, the endless runs through the rainforest to get out of 30+ degree weather and all the amazing views there with the light and the ancient trees, and thoughts of family and friends and my now-gone father when running.
I think of stark moments, like when during Easter weekend we drove into Silverton in the Kootenays and before me lay the most beautiful place I’ve ever experienced: Slocan Lake, a cold, glacial lake surrounded by the Selkirk Mountains, near Valhalla Provincial Park. I was so taken aback that such perfect beauty existed. We headed into New Denver to meet some relatives, and soon enough we were out with their dog Fiona hiking down to and around the frigid lake. I was mesmerized, and it continued until we left that night and I noticed more stars in that black, spirited night than I had ever before, but we were so far from civilization. I had drank some wine and was feeling pretty good, and then Morgan slowed down the car as a family of deer just ambled in front of us, almost oblivious to us interlopers. We completely stopped then, watching these deer walk across the road in that night full of stars. Afterward I commented that I must move there someday.
I think of funny moments, like when we had some of our family visit during the hot drought of the summer, and we couldn’t get any relief since we do not have air-conditioning. We spent lots of time outdoors, hiking or swimming at Sasamat and Buntzen. At one point, after picking lots of blackberries from the empty lot next door, my daughter dropped her pie before it went into the oven. And, since I had just recently cleaned the floor, we picked all those berries up and reshaped the pie, laughing.
I think of sad moments, like when my brother’s dog died or when I was treated rudely by a house guest over the summer, after having shown nothing but charity, love, kindness when she visited. I think of silent moments when I was deep in the forest, smothered in rain and sweat, trying to run further and faster, and just stopping in the midst of it all, knowing in that moment I was not alone and this was life, and there may not be a finer moment than me there with the dripping trees and misty air and ferns and animals.
I think of simple moments when I sat outdoors at night with a flickering candle, a night full of stars, good music, and a glass of red wine–or watching my mother and mom-in-law sit in the misty sunlight on the banks of a river so far out of civilization, where grizzly bears roamed in search of salmon, and I remember the way the sunlight caught their hair in that one frozen moment that seems eons ago now. Having watched my father live and then leave this Earth, I want to hang onto the moments my mother and other elders are still here.
All these moments add to a very fleeting life of mine, and I want to live it to its fullest, even if its fullest is only mine to know–and the very few who may read these words or know me. It has been said that humankind has lived for three seconds, relatively, in the course of Earth’s life. And individually we are just tiny quantum beings, then. We have our own stories, our own imprints.
I listen to an old Irish harper, look at this photo of my mother’s parents, and think of them in that one little moment where she sat on his lap and they both smiled to someone, who knows who. Decades later I will spend Christmas planning a trip for Mom to go back and see the ancestors of these two lovely people in the photo, whom I miss so very much but said good bye to ages ago. In the meantime I wonder how it will feel to run in these different places, like California in three weeks and perhaps among the cliffs of Moher or the coast next summer.