BOB GRAY: Turnings

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By Sunday, Dec 20 Life In the Berkshires

Housatonic — Over the years I’ve considered my winter-solstice birthday in many different ways down all the years I’ve been keeping track of such things in my writing.

When I was fifty, winded from hammering away at the woodpile, I mused an hour away sitting on a wide stump. In addition to doing some clear thinking, I’d witnessed a dream I’d always held. I saw a flock of migrating geese, flying neck-stretched and yelping, silhouetted against a full moon.

The stump has long since rotted away; the fifty-year-old man has long since gone his way as well.

Becoming sixty-nine in a day or two, I’m working at the computer table, surrounded by balled-up scraps of paper, shreds of thought, their theme bound up only by my being born in the time of deepest dark and of my moving on toward the growing light and the hope of spring.

Comparisons drawn between a year’s cycle and a life’s span are as worn smooth and threadbare as an old pair of pants. But, by my lights, it’s only natural I should think a little about the scheme of things as my life’s anniversary occurs on one of the great swings of the year, should find myself considering where I’ve been and wondering where I’m going.

I’ve always wished, and have earnestly tried, to believe in the circular nature of life. But the faith is beyond my ken. The same inevitability of the seasons’ cycling, beckoning the sun back north each year, simply cuts another notch into the measure of my linear life.

I suppose I’ve gained the right to some self-indulgent melancholy regretting good times passed.

But it’s better to let these feelings turn and to use them to know yourself, to find acceptance, contentment, and peace.


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