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QUINTESSENCE

Secret Things

Huckleberry picking

Let us look for secret things
somewhere in the world,
on the blue shore of silence
or where the storm has passed,
rampaging like a train.
There the faint signs are left,
coins of time and water,
debris, celestial ash
and the irreplaceable rapture
of sharing in the labour
of solitude and the sand.

- from "Forget About Me," Pablo Neruda

I found myself dragging into my study this morning, deeply missing the recent vacation en plein air experience of working on my writing in the morning sun on the deck, or down on the dock by the cold lapping lake waters. Something expands the horizons within the mind when you work outdoors, within nature. Different rhythms of creative energy occur; the thermostat of the soul re-calibrates, relaxes the body. The jazz-like syncopation of nature's backup singers catch our ear - the dragon fly, jumping fish, bird cry - the melodies of the world around us. Obversely, something distinctly cramped and confining occurs returning to the four walls of an office: the fixed boundaries of space and vision, the persistent humming of tech, the edges of a geometry designed for efficiency.

It took great discipline to walk in my study, sit down, and begin to work this week. Just as it took discipline to lace up my running shoes this morning and hit the city streets after the freedom of flying down lakeside trails. Striking pavement, I still feel earth, soft underfoot with hot dust and pine needles. The sudden cool silk against skin slipping through patches of deep dappled shade, charged with joy at the many unexpected natural vistas. The pastoral song and the city beat. Somehow I have to move between the two, without losing either creative focus or the inner furnace of steadily-stoked energy that fuels the life I lead and the work I do.

Perhaps it is enough to give space to the transition. To appreciate the small pine cone on the branch of wrapped horsehair moss and love that it now sits on my desk. To contemplate, as Neruda writes, the "blue shores of silence" for the many small reminders of secret things.

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