Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Broken bits for now

Two weeks ago I mistakenly thought that a productive and sunny weather week meant that I could return to some kind of half-decent routine. Last week that idea was smashed by a single letter that set me on a trail that I'm still on, informing me vaguely about Korean nationality laws that changed a decade ago and could derail a lot of my very hard work. It's too complicated to even comprehend (partly because it's so outrageously ridiculous) but meant that even today, I needed to get out of my head. Looking over a bridge at broken slate pieces in a bank of water made me want to jump in and gather them but like lots of things these days, was not a real option!
This greeted me at the start of my favorite loop in the woods. I tried to figure out where this tree was when it was still standing, and from which angle it fell (it took out part of the wooden railing of the wood bridge that starts and ends this trail). It is a new fallen tree and today I noticed that these are always very common and regular in the woods. I guess I never thought about it until now, that this is a normal cycle of life and death and the slow composting of each tree feeds all the new ones.
My 6-yo niece has started to draw comics to my great delight, and yesterday while very glum I started to trace them, as Lynda Barry recommends. I picked the character that I most relate to (it notices a drooping flower and then gets yelled at to water it). While on the phone with Velma today, I made more versions of it. Today I was able to see her on my screen as she drew another hilarious comic about a girl sitting in a chair with a piece of toast that she eats all at once. She did the entire face-full-of-food look! I laughed and laughed.
You can't tell in this picture, but these were the first flowers (not yet blooming but nearly) that greeted me at the entrance to the dirt path from the parking lot. I was so excited to see the small flowers beginning to blanket the floor of the woods. [now I know these yellow ones are trout lily...]
I didn't bring my real camera and I'm not a nature photographer but they really made me feel better. I was extremely cranky for the first 15 minutes of my walk but then forced myself to continue onto a different trail even though it was muddy and I'm so glad I did.
It's wonderful when it gets cold like this because people stay inside and I can feel like it's me all alone surrounded by bleached dead leaves and fallen trees and so much life all around and above and below. I am being reminded that the confidence I felt before everything came crashing down again was a mistaken sense that I could ever have a certain life. I'm used to a certain level of uncertainty but this is something bigger altogether. Good things happen, like an artist relief check coming in the mail from a complete and generous stranger. Bad things happen, like a massive bureaucracy telling me that a grant I worked very hard for might be revoked simply because I was born to Korean parents.
Nothing happens in the order that I'd like. I should get more used to them hitting harder each time, maybe because my ambitions are big. Once in a while I wise up enough to go outside to learn and re-learn gratitude, like this broken bit of path meant to help us over with a little more grace. The residue of helpful people in these nature preserves gives me as much hope as the tiny flowers that rise up to say hello when all the others are still sleeping.

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