words + photo by Catherine Ritchie
“At a certain point, you say to the woods, to the sea, to the mountains, to the world, ‘Now I am ready. Now I will stop and be wholly attentive.’ You empty yourself and wait, listening. After a time you hear it: there is nothing there. There is nothing but those things only, those created objects, discrete, growing or holding, or swaying, being rained on or raining, held, flooding or ebbing, standing, or spread. You feel the world’s word as a tension, a hum, a single chorused note everywhere the same. This is it: this hum is the silence.”
― Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk
I tend to buy into every bit of fresh-start-optimism that January has to offer.
Which is not to imply that I recommend indulging in wildly unattainable resolutions, but rather, that I wholly believe in the certain freshness that comes with the arrival of the new calendar. January feels like a clean slate, open to establishing better habits and cultivating more joy.
To kick off the New Year on a peaceful note, I always try to head out-of-doors. A trek into the snowy woods will do. A walk along the coast would be even better.
Yet in spite of this fresh-start-optimism, I have found that when the days are cold, I am naturally more inclined to sit in a warm room with a book and a cup of tea. But pushing myself outside is always worth the effort. In the words of author Annie Dillard, “At a certain point, you say to the woods, to the sea, to the mountains, to the world, ‘Now I am ready. Now I will stop and be wholly attentive.’ You empty yourself and wait, listening.”
What a wonderful way to begin a new year.
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