Monday, December 28, 2015

The Wind at our Backs

This Christmas Eve, I ran the hills around my house. It was bizarrely warm out- 60 degrees- as it has been many days these last two months. It is the warmest, most snowless winter on record for Buffalo, and has been warm enough that the fallow farmland is now sprouting emerald green shoots of grass as far as the eye can see. It looks and smells exactly like a perfect spring day with the glaring exception that the sun is hanging in the wrong corner of the sky and casting far too mellow a glow across the landscape to which it is awkwardly married.

I found myself thinking of friends who had told me in recent months that they could not endure another Buffalo winter. For while most people who live here love something about the snow, even if they tire of it by February's gracefully short end, there are those few who begin to brace themselves against our long white season as soon as fall comes, as if bracing for an assault. On their account, I thought, "This one's for you."

I also found myself surprised yet again by the fact that on my way east down 20A, it felt for all the world like a perfectly windless day, but then when I turned 180 degrees and headed westward and homeward, the wind was quite formidable against me. And how funny it is that the wind gets no credit when it is at our backs, quietly aiding our efforts. We only notice it when it hinders us.

So it is with most things: that which is gracious or harmonious with our efforts and desires, we quickly assimilate into our own sense of efficacy. While we may initially acknowledge it a gift, we somehow begin to credit ourselves with it over time. Only when that assistance is taken away can we see how dramatically it added to what we ourselves produced. Perhaps it helps us to take ownership of all that propels us forward; paying too much tribute to outside helpful forces may strip us of a sense of efficacy that builds on itself until we truly are contributing much more to our own success. But I suspect this is a fallacy, that an abiding awareness of our limitations combined with deep gratitude that we are nevertheless able to do more than we ought, can give us much more.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Anticipation Conflation

The other day I started a round of antibiotics and I keep not being able to remember if I took my last dose. I'm worried about forgetting to take one so it comes to mind often, and I go so far as imagining taking one before I actually do. Then the act of taking one is so quick that somehow the memory of taking a pill gets collapsed into the memory of anticipating taking it, such that I can't remember, five minutes later, whether I took a pill or whether I just imagined I did; I keep having to count how many are left.

That phenomenon, so concrete in the pill example, because the anticipated action is so brief and thus easy to forget, is a fascinating one and makes me wonder how much of our memories of actual events in our history are at least partially conflated with our memory of our anticipation leading up to the event, in which we imagined, perhaps many times, if we were excited or nervous, what the event would be like. It seems like an easy way for details to become shuffled, in retrospect.

I think particularly of the potent memories of childhood Christmases and wonder how much I am remembering those magical mornings themselves, versus the days and weeks leading up to Christmas, which were filled with anticipation and wonder.

When we greatly anticipate a thing, the thing itself becomes the culmination of all our imaginings, is but the top layer adorning a stack of imagined versions of the event itself. But we forget this when we recall it; we remember it as a single thing rather than the many that it is.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Standing Still

Corn cut off at the stalk and golden, broken,
Studs the grasses of the autumn afternoon.
Its hollow reeds are whistling thin
Beneath the windmills' constant whir.
Complacent as a teenager, not doing anything
But standing still. I'm standing still.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Kitty & Dog

Every night for the past few weeks, Natalie has been asking me to play Kitty & Dog with her, where I pretend to be a cat and she pretends to be a dog. We crawl around the floor on our hands and knees for a half hour before she goes to bed, pretending to lap water from a bowl, curl up and sleep on the ground, and play with a ball. Sometimes it gets more complicated than that, like when we write each other letters about our vacations and put them in each others' "mailbox," and read them aloud to each other. Or sometimes she says, "OK, now you be my person," and I take her to the "park" to play fetch. (We actually do play fetch).

I have been surprised at how much I have come to look forward to this game each night. of course, I have the normal adult reluctance (though much less so now than when we first started this)-- the feeling we so often have of trying to put kids off, of trying to make them happy entertaining themselves for five more minutes while we finish another chore, the feeling of urgency to complete our own list of chores (which honestly do need to get done).

But there is time for this. I've been overcome with the realization that when I get down on all-fours with my five year old, I enter into her world. It's this fantastical place existing just on the other side of a veil from the world in which I'm forever completing tasks, and she's extending me an invitation, and by some miracle, when I say yes, I am allowed to enter in. It saddens me to think of how often I refuse, because what she's really asking me is, "Will you be with me, in this moment, right now?"

It's only when we are playing together that I experience her personality in its fullness, and strangely, once I cross that threshold into her world, all of the urgency of my own world melts away, and I realize that I'm engaged in the most important activity I could possibly be doing. (And it relieves my stress).

I think that we all, as children, naturally know how to invite people into our world, but that it's a skill many of us lose as we grow older. Natalie has reminded me of how to open that door of Self to usher others in, and there's nothing better than a shared activity to make it happen.

The other night when we were playing Kitty & Dog, she suggested, "OK, let's pretend that you're Mother and I'm Natalie and we're playing together." She didn't want to crawl around on the floor any more but she wanted me to stay in her world. So I did. If she had said that to me when we weren't already playing Kitty & Dog, I don't think I would have understood. But I did. I am learning, slowly.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Control and Freedom

When something we care about is outside of our control, we often force something else which we can control to act as a proxy for that thing. My husband observed early on in our marriage that when I was upset about something, I would wash dishes. A sink full of dirty dishes was never the thing that was upsetting me, but cleaning them up really did make me feel better because it was something that I could control; I couldn't immediately solve the bigger problems in my life but I could at least put my house into order.

I do something similar with running races. What I care most about is running as fast as I can for a sustained period, but there is no clear way to measure my success at that effort other than a nebulous sense of how I feel. So instead I monitor other closely related things which are easier to control and measure, such as how many steps I am taking per minute, and how many steps I take with each inhalation and exhalation. I focus on what I can control and quantify, and stand these things in the stead of that which is outside of my control.

Our sense of control over our lives, over our ability to obtain what we need, is the constant work of our minds. We are always busy with the energy of that task, however subtly. Sometimes that effort reaches our direct consciousness, often when we fear loss of control. The use of proxies, of substituting something we can control for something we cannot, is just one of many ways that we maintain the illusion of control. We are desperate to maintain it.

But while the mind toils to control things, our hearts crave the opposite of control-- freedom. I love the Christian concept that love cannot exist without free will, that the God who created all things and could have chosen to maintain control over all of creation nevertheless created human beings who are able to choose not to love-- which is another way of saying that human beings can love. Any attempt to control love ends it. It can only be given and accepted, never required.

Last weekend I spent some time running alone in a cemetery to warm up before a race. I kept my pace slow, and focused on my form. I watched several docile geese tottering silently out of my path as I approached, and deer springing noisily around in the distance in their fright. As I rounded a corner near the back of the grave yard, I came face to face with a wall of tall grain swaying quietly just beyond the path, with their heavy heads drowsing in the wind. They all moved as one, like dancers. They seemed to radiate love with their movement, and it struck me that all things in this world, anything to which life has been given, is full of love. It lives in the tall grasses as much as it lives in me. We all draw our graceful movements from the same source-- from life, love. They are one. We all are one.

I felt relieved of some wrong notion of love, some feeling that love comes in limited quantities, that it must or even can be earned, that it could ever be withheld. Nobody can deprive us of love because it is in our breath. No one can take it away because it is everywhere-- in each blade of grass, in the geese, the deer. It is the force that sustains the world. When someone important fails us, love is nevertheless available to us in abundance, because the person who hurt us was never the source of love anyway. They were just one conduit and there are many. Ultimately the only way to cut ourselves off from the experience of this great love is to exercise our free will to refuse it. We can insist upon receiving it from a certain source, while closing ourselves off to its million other manifestations.  Love is in all things; it is only ours to be open to it. This is always a choice that we have.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Canopy of Conversation

When we are small, a canopy of conversation spreads above our heads. Before we can speak it is a part of our environment, like the trees rustling in the forest when we walk. The texture of voices and the emotion they contain inform our sensibilities long before we begin to decipher that other layer of language, that which we impose upon words and call meaning. But there is another sense in which language has meaning, apart from even the words themselves, and this other form of meaning teaches us just as much. Sometimes words obscure those other meanings and become like clouds covering over that sky spread above us.

As we grow taller, we begin to poke our noses into that canopy, begin trying the words in our own mouths: we engage. And after adulthood we have so few new occasions to experience that sensation again, of finding a new world of language. I think that is why I enjoy the ladies' locker room at the gym so much. I go midday, to change before I go on a run outdoors on my lunch break, most days of the week. At that hour, I am by far the youngest person there, in my mid-30s. Everyone else is 70 at least, and they come every day in large groups to take fitness classes in the pool. They all know each other and the place is filled with mirth. (In fact, just the other day one of the women forgot her underwear so a whole group of the ladies decided to go commando with her!)

But mostly what I overhear is conversations about visiting their grown children in other states and trying not to impose; who they hired to do their yard work; things their doctors told them. One woman brought in a quilt she had made to show her friends one day. There's a rich social environment there that I want to be a part of-- not now, but some day. I want to be the kind of person who behaves that way when I'm 80-- someone who's still meaningfully connected and engaged, thoughtful and open. I guess I am at least in the right place.

I have the feeling, when I am around them, of being a child again in a grown up world that I am not yet ready to access or even to fully understand, but one that I hope to gain the language for one day. It's a precious thing, at 36, to be able to feel that way. It reminds me of running around extended family members' houses on holidays playing games with other children while the grown ups cooked the meal-- feeling carefree and surrounded by the ones who are carrying the real weight of existence, because they are a head taller than I am, rustling above me, forming the shape of the larger world around me. One day I hope to be one of the few left looking out above the forest canopy and still shaking my leaves with laughter while the children run around my feet.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Do Not Grudge Her

Do not grudge a woman her quiet imitation of a flower,
Though you may say it's only a daisy, and how obviously
She's tripping over metaphors.

Maybe she never knew how to open her face like that
And honor the sun with her simplicity,
Without holding a thousand small intentions in reserve.

And maybe she's never known the art of holding her own space
Without her silence turning into acquiescence,
Trusting the slender stalk of her being

To waft her fragrance out across the field grasses
She towers over, wondering when the wind
Will come to stir her essence up

With others now that she has learned how to be still,
To bend and open.
Do not grudge her all the beauty of her silence.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Passive Awareness

While most of our daily endeavors require our direct attention, and preferably concentration, there are certain activities for which it's beneficial for our attention to be directed elsewhere. Like safely viewing an eclipse, it's better to look at them indirectly. Take, for example, the placebo effect. If we know that medication we are taking may be just be a placebo, it is best not to think too much about that possibility because doing so will undermine its effectiveness. Yet I have found, much to my surprise, that holding such knowledge in passive awareness is not detrimental.

I experience this on a regular basis when I take Melatonin pills to help me sleep at night. I take them and immediately, when my head hits the pillow, I go to sleep. I know that it's not possible for the pills to work that quickly-- it has to take at least 20 minutes for the hormone to be absorbed into my bloodstream. Yet it works. And oddly, my knowing that it is just a placebo effect and acknowledging that fact to myself somehow does not undermine it. I suppose if I were to dwell on it, it would. But I hold that knowledge instead in a sort of passive awareness, a knowledge held in check, given a nod and passed over without too much deliberation. I think this type of awareness can be useful in other arenas as well.

One arena that is directly related to my Melatonin example is the process of falling asleep itself. There come these moments every night when I am aware that my mind is slipping off into a sort of dreamlike consciousness. Thoughts will begin to occur in nonsensical patterns, with images and feelings and words falling out of joint into new relationships with each other. I know in those moments that I am in the process of falling asleep and soon will be slipping away from my own consciousness. I used to think that if I were to acknowledge to myself that I was falling asleep in those moments, it would break the spell and I would rouse myself back to full wakefulness, but again, to my surprise, that doesn't happen if I hold my knowledge of my impending sleep state in a sort of passive awareness, where I give it a silent nod and then don't deliberate on it.

It strikes me that this same sort of passive awareness is useful in all kinds of activities where we are pushing our minds to do something; recognize that we could undermine our own mental process; and need to step out of our own way. This applies to coming up with a solution to a complex problem, a situation in which often, after conscious weighing of pros and cons, need to "sleep on it," to let the unsolved problem lie dormant in our subconscious mind and not pick it up again until sleep has done its work of sorting the issue out in our minds. Often we wake up with a clear answer, or a clearer one when we have let our minds do this work away from our direct gaze. It's often tempting to pick these problems back up for conscious deliberation (often in the middle of the night), but doing so will only hinder the work our minds must do without our interference. In those cases it's best to give the silent nod to the existence of the problem, and then turn away again from direct deliberation so that we do not interfere.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Opening Doors

I have my socially acceptable synthetics
And I know the air conditioned dance
Of ideas around the water cooler too.

Consider: Everybody gathers around water,
Even the frogs. And trust me,
They understand change.

When they change, it's not mere
Window dressing: it's entire.
Not like us or like the sky,

Who's constantly shedding appearances,
Becoming one color then the next,
Opening and closing its doors.

And when they're mature,
You can hardly spot the frogs.
They exist more in the bent grass blade--

For us-- than they do in their skin,
They are so subtle.
Yet all day long, their chorus haunts the marsh,

As if the mud itself is singing.
And listen: if you go outside
You can still hear it.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Meditations on the Flesh

On darker Sunday mornings when the walls
Of the old sanctuary are barely filled with an echo,
And they pass the plastic cup down through the fingers
Of the strangers in my pew, I reach out
And suck the holy grape juice into my cheek,
Wishing I could hold a whispering deity like that--
Like a warm velvet liquid that flows through my teeth
And forces swallowing.

In the evenings, darker still, after driving home
And brushing my teeth, I sink myself into you
With the expectation of tasting your flesh
Down the long lick of my body.
My body, the catacomb of spent pleasures,
Lies under the covers awaiting audience.
Under the hushed breath rush of our meeting,
With the dull panegyric pealing like new church bells,
I am wishing I could hold a breathing God like that--
Like a love that laces my palms full of holes
And gives warm flesh.

The dank empty dark of the lunar eclipse
Sends my hand in the arc of a half-moon
To your pillow, fingering for slivers of breath.
My palms come up satin-filled, unholy,
Gaping at the loss of something sacred.
Out with you- out- out with your memory,
Out with the taste of your flesh on my tongue,
Out with the draught of wine, out with the touch,
Out with the feeling that's under the skin.

But in the morning, I wake up with you
On my breath, with that suspended
Knowledge of things hoped for and half-touched.
The moon takes to a carrel to study the sun,
And I wonder what it is to hold out a hand
In the dark like a moon and to know
That the emptiness holds and intangible breath
That touches my blood, that touches my flesh,
That whispers blunt nails through the thick of my palms
Until I start to feel under my skin
That the catacomb is audienced
And a new song is ringing through the hollows.

I found this poem that I wrote in a very old journal from when I was a virgin and a teenager. It was one of those poems that just came to me as if from someone else, and I still don't feel as if it came from me as I read it, but I still like it. It's always charmed me with its strangeness.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Each June, immigration lawyers from all over the United States make pilgrimages to whatever city our organization has located with a gargantuan enough conference center to accommodate three to four thousand of us as we shuttle from one ballroom to the next to listen to each other talk. We are as organized as an ant colony in our glassed-in rooms, with social and professional hierarchies to determine which ones of us warrant a microphone for an hour here or there. We go from room to room, reflecting back and forth our clients' experiences to one another, along with our insights, forming a consensus of best practices.

Between floors, between rooms, giant escalators ferry us around. I have a vivid mental image of a colleague now passed on, whom I saw riding up an escalator at one of these conferences the last year he attended. I had only ever interacted with him online and over the phone and had never met him in person. Yet we had become friends; we had a similar view of the world, and the practice of law. I had hoped to meet him at that conference but our paths never crossed. But there was one day when he was going up an escalator and I was going down the opposite one and I spotted him and, for whatever reason, I knew it was him. I just recognized in his body language something of the person whom I knew. I verified this later with a photograph. We never did meet before he left this world.

Ever since then I've been haunted with this sense of poetry about seeing my colleagues riding around on these escalators. There's something strangely ennobling about the posture people adopt as they arrest their forward motion momentarily to be carried from one floor to the next. It looks almost as if time has frozen for a minute and that the observer is able to watch those who are being carried along on the current of the machinery, somehow outside of time.

Thinking of my departed friend while watching those I know this week in the same posture did carry me outside of time, to his past, their future, the intersections of all of our timelines and the strange ways that the understanding we collect from each other informs our reality, the practice of our profession, our journey through life.

Saturday, June 20, 2015


Hello, Death, how are you?
It's so good of you to stop.
I'm sure you must be busy
Harvesting your crop.

For you to stop each night like this
And ask if I am ripe yet is
A little over-zealous.
You will make the ripe fruit jealous!

But who am I to judge?
I'm sure you really know your stuff.
Why don't you stay for dinner?
I can heat you up some left-overs.

Monday, May 18, 2015


To grow up deep in a valley
Where echoes chase after each word,
And an angry scream meets with its answer
Like a lover whose dream is fulfilled,

Is to tremble on top of a mountain
Where you wait to be sure that you're heard
And your sightlines all parallel faultlines
Like a lover whose dream is deferred. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015


You can only hate
what you deeply know.
You can only eat
things that used to grow.
You can only believe
what you used to doubt.
You can only love
what you've lived without.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Those Hours

Almost exactly 8 years ago, I gave birth to my first daughter and 6 weeks later, began practicing as an attorney. The scariest part of my job was going to the border. It took awhile to learn how to shoulder the burden of my clients' expectations and fears, how to prepare them for the worst case scenario without making them so anxious as to cause them to bring it about. The worst part was the waiting-- sitting with a client and giving them the impression that everything was under control while my own stomach was churning as we waited to ask a government officer to pretty please let them come work in the United States.

Sometimes we would be there for hours in the same room. I was still nursing my baby, and a few times I was stuck there so long I started leaking milk. I remember the agony of putting on my shoulder belt in the car afterwards. I suffered in all manner great and small. Nothing to follow in my entire career has yet been worse than balancing all of those things in those still hours. And nothing was more important in shaping me.

In those hours, I instinctually returned to the yogic breathing I had learned during my pregnancy, centering myself, remembering how in giving birth, my job was to step out of the way of what would happen naturally, how that is always my job. To be present. To breathe. To witness. To step aside for what is larger.

And still my mind was frantic in seeking out comforts for itself. Often it would settle on the very old or the very young who also sat waiting-- mothers holding sleeping babies close to their hearts, old couples conversing-- people whose essence was not modified by the stressful environment because it could not be altered by anything, was immutable, a step removed from the commerce of the world. They stilled me. The babies would stir my milk, summon it down, remind me of my connectedness.

After 8 years, I view the same waiting room quite differently; it is a comforting place, the scene of years of pleasantries and happy clients.  Stress no longer transforms me when I wait there. It is a time of stillness and conversation, a blank, electronics-free space in which the ancient practice of human interaction is still alive if I cultivate it. My clients are no less stressed but I become like the baby for them, the person they look to for comfort because my essence is unchanged by the environment. And they tell me all kinds of wonderful things when I poke them. I think stress loosens the lips. They will tell me things they wouldn't tell their priest. It's like magic.

Going to the border is now fairly routine for me. I know how it works, I know the people. But the other day, I had a similar experience, of trying something new. I went to immigration court for the first time in my practice. It was for a case that arose out of a border issue. Again, there was a waiting room. (Any life event of any significance is preceded by an antechamber; if you are in a waiting room, pay attention. It's important). And while we were there, a mother sat down with her sleeping toddler molded into her shoulder. Suddenly, I had the physical sensation of milk letting down, even though I stopped breastfeeding my second baby over three years ago. It was a bodily reminder, an echo of that distant time. But I was not frantic this time, I did not feel like I was searching out comforts. I just found one-- or it found me-- anyway. And I felt myself again part of a very old and very large family, and was surrounded by it. It is everywhere. And for me, the coincidence of my first child's birth with the beginning of my practice, seems like no small thing. Both called on me in a similar way, to give through a stillness and presence that came from beyond and through me, and are forever intertwined.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Venus & Mars

Based on Botticelli’s painting by the same name

What Venus sees when she surveys her love,
The half-drunk Mars who cannot stay awake,
We only know, or dare to guess because
The God of War can slumber in her gaze.

That she, Goddess of Love, remains composed
After she consummates her pact with war
May be a testament that what she holds
Is stronger, in the end, than brutal force.

Or maybe pleasure stills her quiet mind,
And only we, who see that she still wakes,
Assume she searches her lover to find
The words to seal the pact that they have made-

If love and war shall be forever joined,
Let he who speaks of victors have no voice.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Hollow bones in their feathers clothed
Lift up frail wings to mount the air
To climb the invisible stairs
And flutter to their sometimes home,

Arriving in my dark moments
With morning's backwards lullabies
To coax my closed and dreaming eyes
To flutter to their sometimes home.

What strange migrations of the soul
Repeat their circuits every night!
What hollow apparatus might
Conduct this flight we take alone?

For like the birds, we build our homes
Inside a world that's not our own.

Friday, March 6, 2015

So...... Does anyone else have a dead lumberjack who haunts their dreams?

Ok, so this one time maybe a decade ago, me, my husband and my aunt and uncle went camping down at Griffis Sculpture Park. We slept in one of their two cabins. It was for my uncle's birthday and his then-girlfriend had gotten us into the cabins, which they do not usually rent out, by sheer charm, to celebrate my uncle's birthday. We ate hot dogs, we played kalimba, we talked extensively about sweeping, burned things- you know, camping. Then, the next morning, as we were walking our way out of what was barely a camp, back toward the sculpture park filled with enormous metal women and unmowed grass, we came to a clearing in front of the other cabin. We were hauling heavy things, backpacks full of whatever, when we saw Simon Griffis, a name which I imagine adorning the credits of a 1970s cartoon with a sunshine emblazoned behind it, chopping wood with his waders on. He was way over 6 feet tall, just some young Paul Bunion. He built the two cabins, he owned the park after his father. He was that place. We chatted for a few minutes and went on our sunshiny way.

About two years later, I heard on my frosty morning commute, in my little car filled with the fog of my breath for a suspended moment, that the police had identified the body of someone who had been hiking alone at Zoar Valley. It was Simon Griffis, the owner of Sculpture Park. The iconic image of artistic country living had plummeted to his death in an accident while he was out exploring

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Girl Raised By Wolves

On top of a hill with a view
Of the woods and the valley below
Where the grains touch their toes in the wind
Is a fine place to mark your beginning--

Where every day calls your small feet to explore
The uncharted paths stretching out your back door,
Which are carving their shapes in the map of your brain
Just as you make your mark on the terrain.

There's something about the vastness of Space
And the way that it rhymes with that other word, Grace,
That makes them the same sanctuary to those
Who have dwelt in their absence behind closed doors--

Where the walls listened in for the secrets but heard
Only childhood poems carving space between words
For the ache to which language can only aspire,
And the darkness which only tells truth when it lies.

It is thus that life calls to us, thus that we follow
The path through the thicket, the map of tomorrow.
Wherever the space opens up to contain us,
We open our doors to the path that awaits us.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Effort of Stasis

There is a simple realization that I keep having over and over again throughout my life. And maybe it's no different than the Buddhist concept of "flux." It's just the idea that everything you see is in motion, on a course or a path, and that our perceptions are as immediately artificial as a snapshot. You gather a concept of a person or a thing in your mind and refer to it as if it were fixed, when in reality, it never is.

As a child, I used to see a thin or fit person and think, "Wow, they don't have to worry about what they eat," not realizing that every person's body is the shape of their habits, that what I see when I look at a person's shape is the accumulation of thousands of little actions, the routines by which they conduct themselves.

As I have become a home owner, I've learned that the same is true of buildings, that the picturesque homes through which I've walked are in a constant state of repair, one piece or another always being taken off and replaced. They hold their shape and appear fixed only because of constant effort.

All things are like this. In order to maintain the appearance that something is unchanged, we must change it constantly. Nothing requires more effort than stasis.

Friday, January 30, 2015


The only virtue of some things,
Like February and this poem,
Is that they're mercifully short.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The World as Proxy

I live on a very hilly road where I like to run. There's something satisfying about knowing exactly why I feel terrible half of the time during those runs-- it's the half of the time when I'm going uphill instead of downhill. And when I feel good it's because I'm going downhill. There's a very obvious external reason for all of my feelings.

When I run on the treadmill though, as I have been doing during these sub-zero January days, I realize my positive and negative feelings run through the same cycles, despite every step I take being exactly the same. I have learned to abide with the feelings as they come and go, understanding that each one will pass. But something in me deeply prefers what I experience out there on those hills: I think we gravitate toward life situations that validate our inner dynamics, the flow of our feelings. I think there is a pattern to how we feel even in the absence of external stimuli, that sometimes we go seek out the stimuli to give our minds external reasons to latch onto for why we feel the way we do. But the truth is, some feelings just arise because we are who we are.