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once the plodding recedes

Most mornings while the coffee is brewing I empty the dishwasher. The reason I like to empty the dishwasher first thing in the morning is because it feels good to me to start my day at a baseline of potential. It’s the same reason I clear my desk before I write. It’s why I clear my head before I make a decision. In small, and sometimes significant, ways each day is made of regular returns to that baseline of potential, followed by forays of creativity and curation, followed by the return. And so the rhythm goes.

I wear size 12 rubber boots on the river trail for walks during the mud season, which is now. They’re like the ones I wore to go feed the hogs and the cows and check on the pheasants when I worked on that farm in upstate New York for a couple of weeks in winter ten years ago. They’re boots designed to keep feet dry. Made not for grace but plodding.

When I plod down the trail in my rubber boots the forest hushes until the noise of my clumsy steps recedes. Then, once I’m well past that portion of forest, it stirs back to life.


This is the forest’s baseline. Not the clunk and the slosh of rubber boots in the mud. But the sniffs and the scurries of tiny beautiful creatures going about their business collecting sustenance, crafting shelter, claiming space, playing chase.

Baseline is not exactly a static place of arrival. It’s not perfect clarity, not complete quiet, not the absolute absence of anxiety. It’s that less anxious place. It’s the moments when the plodding of our mind recedes a little, and the tiny critters of our heart feel safe enough to emerge and go about their wilding business.



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