Monday, February 22, 2010

When Clouds Obscure the Sky

 My house has many windows and this morning they all looked out on a vista of green and white. Snow. Again. Still. I sat by the fire and watched it fall. All kinds of snow. Big wet snowflakes, tiny hard shards of snow, snow falling gently, snow blowing almost horizontally. Sometimes I couldn't see the mountains or the valley.  The sky was white, the falling snow was white, the ground was white. The pinon trees were heavy with snow and a few hardy, hopeful juncos hopped among the branches that hang over the east deck; looking for birdseed.

For  hours the snow blotted out the distant views of mountains and gorge.It also seemed to blot out time, replacing the pace of minutes and hours with a steady rhythm of its own, one that defies the clock.  Minutes and hours change in a steady predictable pattern and pace. Every day. But its hard to predict exactly when the snow will start...or end...or begin again.

Its irrational, but when all I can see is snow I start to think that its snowing everywhere. That there is possibly no end to the snow. After all, I cannot see beyond it. Which is true of another circumstance in my life... The recession (and its effects on the job market) a circumstance which, like this snow storm, seems to have its own pace and sometimes takes up my entire view.

Then I remember --- If you look through a window and all you can see is a storm cloud filling the entire view you can make the window frame bigger and you'll see that the storm cloud has a beginning and end. It arises and dissolves. And beyond the storm cloud is a blue sky, untouched by the storm passing over it.

So I decided it was time to re-frame my relationship to this snowy day. I swept and shoveled a path to the wood pile, 3 times, maybe 4, happy to taste the cool wet air.  I knocked snow off the low hanging pinon branches outside my front door and laughed as cold snow slipped down my collar.

Later the clouds parted to reveal blue sky and my house filled with sunshine, making the hours of falling snow seem like a dream.  I put on boots, grabbed a hat and ski poles and headed for the deep snow in the arroyo, revelling in the trackless mounds of pure, cold white against the dark wet branches of the evergreens. Things changed again; the sun disappeared behind a thick mountain of clouds and the snow fell thick and fast.  A biting, blowing snow, challenging and exhilerating.

I moved up the hillside in the knee high snow, confident in these familiar surroundings and then a sense of curious wonder as I looked around and did not recognize where I was. Had I had turned a corner in the blowing snow and entered new territory? How could I re-orient myself? I looked at the shape of the land, looked for landmarks. How odd to feel disoriented on land I had known for 30 years.

Peering through the falling snow I saw buildings in the distance and realized that of course was not lost.
I had just never seen my land from this particular viewpoint or under these conditions. I was seeing things from a new angle and was touched by the humble loveliness of the shed, the old red truck, the grey weathered planks of a falling fence.

My relationship to finding work is alot like this short journey in the snow. In one sense I'm in a familiar landscape.  After all, I have known myself for a long time. At the same time, in this search for satisfying, sustaining full time work I am moving through trackless territory and I am seeing both myself and the world of work from a new angle, under new conditions.

There is a purity of possibility in this unmarked landscape, as well as a feeling of surprise and curiosity about coming upon the unfamiliar in this way, at this time in my life. It's somewhat disorienting and raises questions of "where am I, where do I belong and how shall i get there?" 

In this case, while I'm looking outside at the lay of the land I am also looking inside to re-orient to a sense of self that cannot be defined by resumes, interviews, emailed rejections or even a great paying job. A "self " much larger than this passing storm.

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