On yesterday’s morning walk, I saw a sight that made me smile: two runners, all in black, keeping each other company, and two black Labradors, running together in front. I’m not sure it was on purpose, but they all matched so perfectly, and made a perfect pack.
Here in the Northern hemisphere of our shining blue planet, it is a good time for pulling out the running shoes; a good time to emerge into the light and make a bright beginning of the year. From snowdrops to baby lambs and catkins to nesting birds, in the heart of Winter, Spring begins as a hope and a gamble on not too many more frosts to come. Although everyone’s hopes this year must be more for a break in the rain than for the ground to thaw.
And so I begin. For various reasons, I wish to make a regular practice of writing again. The discipline will be good for me, and at some point in the next few years I hope to write quite a lot of words, all together, and even make some sense in the process. So I begin here, by just writing. I’m a little uncomfortable that I might not have a lot to say…well, I rarely find that I run out of things to say. Perhaps more I worry that I might have little the internet wishes to hear. It’s not as if there’s a shortage of educated white women with opinions. That being true, those who know me better are probably already smiling at the idea that I could be just like a thousand others. Whatever else this blog will become, it’ll be different.
But every writer is only having a conversation as good as her readers, and how much truer is that now in the days of instant feedback, comments, shares and reviews? I know that online communication can be a minefield of trolling and intolerance, and yet I still feel such warmth for the chatter and sharing of the mass of humanity. It makes me happy that in a world fraught with suffering and confusion, what we mostly choose to do with our precious freedom is have conversations together. History, after all, is really made by the anonymous millions, not the famous few. (It really is – don’t let yourself be fooled into believing otherwise!)
The brightest beginnings are often made as part of a conversation. One friend changing her lifestyle to improve her health is sustained through her calorie counting and daily runs by the cheerleading encouragement of loved ones. One friend makes plans and gathers the courage to leave his crappy job awash in the tea and sympathy of housemates. If you want to make a bright beginning, gather your allies. Find a friend to go with you on your new twice weekly swim. Find another to spell check that application for you. And if you want to start a regular yoga practice, keep your mat where you can see it.
As an animist, my allies aren’t all human. I walk out of town a few times a week to meet the trees, the sky, the local heron and a dozen different dogs, making a regular effort to continue a conversation that nourishes me deeply. When I’m not walking, I’ve started running again, and it helps to feel the very stones beneath me as old friends. My newest best friends and allies are my new running shoes, which I adore with the heat of any early infatuation.
At this time of year it can be fashionable among those of us with any regular physical practice, to roll our eyes at the influx of bright-faced beginners filling ‘our’ parks and gyms, pools and yoga classes. These regular sanctuaries that we love are suddenly filled with awkward, slightly confused people who don’t know which way to swim up the lanes or where the spare mats are kept. They get in our way, and we know that many of these New Year’s resolutions will have withered by the time Spring is truly here.
It’s easy to forget the bravery of walking into something new. It’s easy to forget that one of things that helps you keep to that resolution is the welcome you receive – the new allies you find there. Smile encouragingly at wobbly runners and splashy swimmers and ask yourself – when was the last time you made a bright beginning?