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what I want to do when this is all done

“A sculpture is just a piece of rock with topography hammered out and chiseled in, but that piece of rock can open your heart in a way that makes you different for having seen it.” Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

Rodin’s sculpture garden.

With the enticing scent of a vaccine wafting all about me, filling me, my thoughts are turning fervidly toward the things that beckon when this is all done. This morning, “A sculpture…can open your heart in a way that makes you different”, transported me. To Paris. To Rodin. I wouldn’t mind starting there when the world reopens its doors. I’ve only been there once. It was late afternoon and I was alone. I was halfway across the garden when light drizzle turned to heavy rain. I settled under an umbrella at the outdoor café and read a book of poetry inspired by the life of Camille Claudel, Rodin’s lover. For more than an hour, rain fell steadily and formed little rivers in the clay around my feet, while I read and wrote and drank something—I don’t recall what, likely tea or white wine. I know I cannot step in the same river twice. But a return to that physical space to see what it might bring, fills me. Maybe that could be Spring.

Come summer, I want to plant and grow and harvest—and weed. The activities of the year that bring me comfort—discomfort—, satisfaction, and joy. But while the bees pollinate and the compost nourishes, I want to gather people I have not been with for many years. Prior to COVID, I had gone fairly deep underground. My own life transitions, a new home, an expanding career, a partner and a dog—my energies were poured into these things and I let nearly all other relationships drift away. This realization brings shame, which this morning I welcome. I can feel it whispering, “repair and rebuild”. There are people I loved. I would like to know them again if they are willing. And I would like to open myself up to the relationships that exist right outside my door. To cultivate care in a way I have let go. But I must take the time. Which means righting myself. Balancing myself again. Moving away from my laser-focus-work-life and into a middle way. Where quiet and company sit opposite one another. Where work finishes with play. Where intensity settles into rest.

Come fall, I want to declutter and rent my house, make arrangements to meet clients remotely, possibly buy a kayak carrier, and get in my car. Maybe first I will go to Maine and take a bit of time along the coast there and in the woods. Should I ever leave Vermont permanently, proximity to the Maine coast will be one of the things I will mourn. Then I would like to turn south. Stop in Boston to see family. On to D.C. and North Carolina for however long to spend time with my children that are there. Then, I have no idea. I want to go fishing. Anywhere. The NC coast or the Florida keys. Perhaps along the gulf where I have traveled little. And then? Across the country? There is family in Denver and San Francisco. I’ve never seen Salt Lake City. Or the Southwest. I would like to see the pueblos. I have the notion in me that I would like to drink deeply from each place. Drink in the unique ethos of a region, the things that are familiar and lovely for me and the foreign parts I have never known or parts that I have forgotten. Just like the friends I long to know again, I want to acquaint and reacquaint myself with places outside of my safe, lovely home.

Those are all grand plans. Brewing in me due to the constraints of this time. I find myself wondering what others are dreaming of—what they miss and long to experience again—or for the first time.

But there are less grand plans that are equally fulfilling.

A meal at a restaurant free of plexiglass. A toast to “newfound” freedom. I’d like to spend time on a trail or on a sidewalk and greet each passerby with my face uncovered—so they can know the genuineness of my hello. I’d like to meet for coffee or go to the grocery store or wander in the marketplace without the notion that I am both doing something wrong and that there is possibly something lurking out there with its tendrils out, wrapping people in sickness unaware. This has been a year none of us imagined.

My job is to understand suffering and uncertainty, to do what I can to live in the present—and to be safety to whoever comes to me as they learn about their own suffering and uncertainty and how to find agency, balance, and peace. I am sitting in my home pre-dawn on a Thursday and I do not wish to wish away this day. The growing light outside my windows. Tea and toast in a bit. A virtual group mid-morning. Wrapping holiday presents later in the day. But the idea that the coming months may bring an end to this isolation is very much present with me. And as I allow that anticipation to be, my imagination fills me with hope.

May the NOW lead me to the next, whatever that is. May the now lead me to the next.


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