Home » What We May Need Most in the New Year

What We May Need Most in the New Year

“Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow…”

Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” 1923

Writing is no easy stroll through a sunny meadow. It is an act of pure courage.

How much easier to traipse through a grassy park, unconcerned with the life pulsing beneath your feet?

How much breezier to waltz by soaring trees and bright flowers left unexamined and unappreciated?

How much simpler to skip past the stuff of life than to confront it and sink your toes into the still soil, staring down the fearsome emptiness of the blank page?

Isn’t this the choice each time we venture out? Whether to breeze by the deeper realities and remain comfortably numb, or to reject the stubborn ignorance that idolizes our myriad fears over true freedom?

Is there an easier way to write? To live? 

Should we pretend to know where we’re headed? Or should we set out admitting we have no clue, no idea, no fairy godmother with a wand or a map, no landmarks or even a sense of our ultimate destination?

Maybe we should decide if life is certainty and control, or if it isn’t enjoyed more seeking out our curiosity and following our surprise.

Isn’t this adventure that the work holds for all of us, despite our stubbornness, our plans, our “progress?” Wouldn’t we rather trust the source of all mystery?

Before you lies an opportunity, a new year. It may require nothing so much as deciding to write resisting the easy seduction of the simpler roads.

In the new year, you can insist on searching out the truth.

And you can dare to write those truths you find onto the waiting page.
“Have you got a brook in your little heart,
Where bashful flowers blow,
And blushing birds go down to drink,
And shadows tremble so?
And nobody knows, so still it flows,
That any brook is there;
And yet your little draught of life
Is daily drunken there.
Then look out for the little brook in March,
When the rivers overflow,
And the snows come hurrying from the hills,
And the bridges often go.
And later, in August it may be,
When the meadows parching lie,
Beware, lest this little brook of life
Some burning noon go dry!”

  • Emily Dickinson, 1924


4 Responses to “What We May Need Most in the New Year”

  1. Pauleette Henderson says:

    I have nothing to add here; only to say that one of the best ways I can think of to start a new year is with Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson.

  2. Cathy West says:

    We were on the same page today, Mick. I’ve also been pondering how to approach the new year, how to grab hold of things that may not be easy to grapple with. This thinking, feeling…dealing with raw emotion…these are things we must do, and do well, in order to tell the truth of our stories.Total honesty. What does that look like? How hard will it be? It’s probably one of the greatest challenges we’ll ever face.
    But I say bring it.

  3. Kathleen Bufford says:

    Enshrining fear–idolatry.
    Says Emily D.: I stepped from plank to plank, a slow and cautious way; the Stars about my head I felt, about my feet the sea. I knew not but the next would would be my final inch; this gave me that precarious gate some call experience.”
    Says Socrates: “The Unexamined life is not worth living.”
    Says Mick, who knows these things and more, beware of enshrining, of making an idol of the fear that would hold you back! Be courageous!
    Says me, o k….I will not worship at that shrine. Thanks Mick.

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