Remembering How To Live

The real challenge is, and has always been, remembering how to live. ~Ian Mackenzie

This morning the thermometer on the back deck says -9 when I walk into the kitchen to feed the cats after rolling out of bed.  I haven’t been getting up in a very timely manner lately: No work schedule, the sun not rising until 7:50am, plus frigid temperatures means there’s not a lot of incentive for getting up early.  At some point, this will probably shift, but for now, it is what it is.  I’m trying not to fight with myself over the little things. But this lack of routine is throwing me off balance, and sometimes I feel like I have forgotten how to live in the modern world of appointments, deadlines, meetings, phone calls, and quality assurance programs.

I feed the cats, switch on the coffee maker, and since my four year old is still in her room waking up while my spouse drinks his coffee, I figure I should head outside.  The sun is shining, there is no wind, and I am craving some fresh air, cold temps be damned.  I pull on my fleece-lined long underwear, don a hat and face-mask, add an extra scarf just in case and head down to the lake.  On a whim I grab my skate skis in the event that it looks like it might work to do a lap.

Sometimes, if the snow’s just right – not too much, packed down, no big bare ice patches – I can skate ski around the lake’s perimeter, and it’s almost like being on a groomed trail.  Almost.  Better than not skiing at all.  A practice in embracing what’s available just out the back door, anyway.

I get down to the dock, slip my feet into my ski boots, clip into my skis and push off.  And away I go.

The ice creaks and groans and cracks as I glide across the frozen white expanse, and the wind is bitter when I face it head on.  But my body is warm, my face basking in the sunlight and my lungs appreciative of the fresh air despite its frigid nature.  It is cold, but it is worth it to be out.

The sky is always vivid blue on days that are below zero and clear, and this morning is no exception.  There’s a vibrancy in the air, like little hints of the kind of anticipation that feels good, hanging in the air as I breathe in and out.  Time stands still as I reach the dock again after making my loop, and I sit down to change out of my ski boots.  I look up and see a grey fox’s tail disappear into the forest through a shimmer of sparkling white sunshine, and I remember that I know how to live.


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