As the new year rolls in, I find myself on a threshold where expectations, sparks of ideas, and new writing meet. Many fellow writers seem to be here now. I'm guessing your visit here means you're somewhere on that threshold too. Each in our own way, we're venturing out. We're longing to really honor our writing selves. We sense there is writing nearby that may lead us toward the heart of our voices. But this work can feel murky, and it doesn't always play nice with other people's expectations. I've been tussling with that, and the reflection below emerged in my writing with/through the tension. I recorded it as well, if you'd like to listen in and receive a little creative grounding for the new year.
A Garden in Winter
Sometimes, we enter our creative life like a garden in winter.
The ground is pocked with snow and the foraging of birds.
We don’t quite remember how we began the garden last year.
We know it rose up with fruit and flowers, but that memory doesn’t bring us comfort now. We find ourselves asking the dirt: Do I remember how to begin?
The dirt does not answer.
It’s strange—that we do not call this dirt a garden.
Only when it blooms, first in spring, then in summer when our friends visit and comment on how beautiful it is, will we say it is a garden.
The garden in winter knows more than we do. It already knows the mechanics of a rose. It holds a memory of what we planted before. It holds the memory of beginning, even as it sleeps.
But the garden in winter sleeps in the middle of a loud world.
Hovering just above the dirt, the world shouts: Resolution! Resolution! Resolve yourself!
We carry this to the garden in winter.
We come with seed catalogues and expectations. We invent rigorous schedules for unhatching the garden. We talk exclusively in the language of the future, because anything less would mean we’re lazy. Or procrastinating. Or missing out.
But the garden in winter sleeps through our noise. As if the seeds, dreaming deep underground, do not want these words to be the first they hear.
We are unnerved by its quiet.
Maybe it is only a pile of dirt after all.
To listen to a garden in winter may be a fool’s errand.
To listen to a garden in winter is to risk dreaming while the world campaigns.
We tell ourselves: I will believe in the garden when I see the roses.
The world asks: Where are your roses? And how many do you have?
The garden asks: What are you willing to trust? And how will you tend it?