I first read the essay “Winter” by Nina Zolotow in Rodney Yee’s book Yoga: The Poetry of the Body in 2002. Since then, it’s something I’ve re-read dozens of times. May it bring you the same peace and relaxation it gives me in this long, cold, dark, and restful season of winter. Rest, my loves, and be glad.
“In their garden there was always a wild profusion of tomatoes ripening on the vine, and leafy basil, arugula, and lettuce, and glossy purple eggplants, and red and yellow peppers, and zucchini with its long, bright blossoms, and there was always lunch at the wooden table on hot summer afternoons, with plates of pasta and bread and olives and salads with herbs, and many bottles of red wine that made you feel warm and drowsy, while bees hummed and the sprawling marjoram, thyme, and rosemary gave off their pungent fragrances, and at the end of the meal, always, inexplicably, there were fresh black figs that they picked themselves from the tree at the garden’s center, an eighteen-foot fig tree, for how was it possible – this was not Tuscany but Ithaca – Ithaca, New York, a rough-hewn landscape of deep rocky gorges and bitter icy winters, and I finally had to ask him – my neighbor – how did that beautiful tree live through the year, how did it endure the harshness of a New York winter and not only survive until spring but continue producing the miraculous fruit, year after year, and he told me that it was quite simple, really, that every fall, after the tree lost all its leaves, he would sever the tree’s roots on one side only and, on the tree’s other side, he would dig a trench, and then he would just lay down that flexible trunk and limbs, lay them down in the earth and gently cover them with soil, and there the fig tree would rest, warm and protected, until spring came, when he could remove its protective covering and stand the tree up once again to greet the sun; and now in this long gray season of darkness and cold and grief (do I have to tell you over what? for isn’t it always the same – the loss of a lover, the death of a child, or the incomprehensible cruelty of one human being to another?), as I gaze out of my window at the empty space where the fig tree will stand again next spring, I think, yes, lay me down like that, lay me down like the fig tree that sleeps in the earth, and let my body rest easily on the ground – my roots connecting me to some warm immutable center – luxuriating in the heart of winter.” ~Nina Zolotow, “Winter”
“In each pause, I hear the call.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
This weekend, I took another pause. It was a long week last week, filled with its fair share of frustration in a number of ways, so I tried my best to sit back this weekend, rest, and recuperate. I caught up with a lot of friends to talk about some ideas I have, watched movies, and made a lot of delicious food. I also spent a significant amount of time sleeping and snuggling with Phin. And something great happened by Sunday night: I saw a pretty complete and happy picture of a way forward. It seemed like every magazine I leafed through, every commercial I saw, and every idea I heard had some sort of significance to what I’m doing and where I’m going. Like little guideposts, they were showing me the way. Too often, I’ve thought of pausing as unproductive. It’s not; it’s vital. I’m excited it’s becoming a regular habit of mine. Pause, and be glad.
I’m sitting in meditation a little longer these days, getting more sleep, and consciously making more time to relax and be. I force myself to do it. I wish relaxing came more naturally to me. I wish I didn’t judge my days by how many items I crossed off my to-do list. That’s how I’m built and it’s served me well. But here’s what also serves me well – focus. And that’s what meditation, rest, and relaxation instills in us. There are two ways to manifest the life we want—make it happen and draw the goodness toward us. I recommend a healthy dose of both.
The older I get, the more precious time becomes to me. I have always been painfully aware of the passage of time. I’m constantly evaluating and re-evaluating my efficiency, the value of my activities, and the good I’m doing with the time I have.
While this might sound like an exhausting way to live, it’s actually more exhausting for me to think that I’m not using my time to the fullest. Now, that’s not to say I don’t relax, unwind, and enjoy my life. I do. It’s a priority for me to be at my best, and my best requires rest. And even in the rest, I know my mind and spirit are doing the valuable work of recharging and evolving.
I’m lucky and grateful beyond measure. I wake up with a purpose and I go to bed counting my blessings – the big and the small, the expected and the unexpected, the wanted and yes, the unwanted. And I wouldn’t want to use my time any other way.
Hello all. It has been over a month since I’ve published to this blog and I want to tell you why I so abruptly took the longest break that I’ve taken in the 9 years since I’ve been writing it.
In March, I received a letter from a photography website threatening to sue me for using an image on a blog post four year ago. That’s right – a single picture, that I got from Pinterest, for a single post, 4 years ago, and I had attributed it to the artist. They never sent me a takedown notice. They just skipped right to suing me for thousands of dollars. By the grace of the universe, my friend, Amanda, connected me to a wonderful attorney who agreed to represent me, and it seems that the issue has evaporated. I haven’t heard a word from them since.
So, I’m back. This has been a wonderful time for me to creatively reflect on my writing and I’ve plowed a lot of time into a number of wildly creative projects including finishing a working draft of my novel, Where the Light Enters, getting one of my paper collages displayed in a gallery in D.C., continuing my writing for The Washington Post, planning a trip to Cuba (yes, CUBA!), and joining a film production company here in D.C. as an associate producer. All while keeping my day job at an education technology startup and being in the process of buying a condo here in D.C.
What I do want to make abundantly clear is that I’ve missed you. A lot. I miss the conversations back and forth. I miss hearing how you’re doing. I miss updating you on what I’m doing, seeing, and hearing. I’ve missed this outlet and I’m thrilled to be back. So here’s to you. Here’s to me. And I’m so glad we’re back together.
And to speak to the unfortunate photo incident of March 2016, all photos that you see on this site were either taken by me or for me. If you want to use any of them, you are absolutely free to do so. No questions asked. Just add a little attribution with my name and this website URL http://christaavampato.com. Let’s never be apart for that long again, okay? Okay.