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11 Little Goats in April


“There is an end to everything, to good things as well.” (So sayeth 14th century poet Geoffrey Chaucer in his epic poem, "Troilus and Criseyde.") Fitting reminder for me today.

The time has come for Roadcinante and I to part ways. She is too noble a vehicle to be sitting parked, impatient for her next journey. I have the sense out there somewhere is the perfect person, planning her own pilgrimage, scheming his own getaway. Toward that end, Roadcinante is up for sale. Heave a sigh with me, won’t you?

It has not been an easy decision. Letting go of her feels like letting go of the last remnants of that magical 2016-2017 journey that took me 12,000 miles, there and back again, and the roads that carried me into both my own storied past, as I revisited old haunts and called out to the people who once were, and the future, as I traversed open highways, the lengths of them connecting me to new people, new wonders.

Of course, the journey is still in me. I am ever the pilgrim, continually seeking, learning, growing. Ready to explore and discover. The surprise that is around the next curve in the road will always pull me forward. Nonetheless, letting go is laden with not just a little bit of grief.

But…life goes on, and it’s Spring!

We’ve had some lovely warm, sunny days here. Rain returned last evening, which, to be honest, with its pattering on the roof and accompanying breeziness that caused the wind chimes to sing in the dark made for a lovely night’s sleep. This morning everything is rain-washed and clear and bright. The moss glows electric green beneath the yellow forsythia. The chickadees at the bird feeder are drawn in sharp neat lines. Sunlight splashes the still-bare trees, transforming dull gray to gleaming pearl. A few honeybees, their wings burnished with gold, inspect the tightly closed rhododendron buds. Even the water in my glass catches and holds the rays.

Light permeates everything.

I feel as if I am coming back to life in so many ways. It’s like this every Spring, of course, when I climb out of my hidey-hole and shake off the cold and stretch my limbs. But this year seems more intense. Closer to the bone. More piercing. A different kind of renewal.

I’m sure as I keep writing, I will tell myself the story of why this year is different, but right now I am uncertain. That’s okay. It has taken me a long time – and a long journey – to be willing to live with uncertainty.

“I don’t know, I’m not sure, and I guess we’ll find out,” were phrases that once caused me consternation, worry, sometimes even panic. I suppose you live long enough, suffer loss often, are frequently surprised by grace, and royally screw up enough times, and you become a lot more pliable.

It seems sort of built-in, actually, this uncertainty thing. Quantum physicist (stay with me here) Werner Heisenberg developed what came to be called the Uncertainty Principle.

The more precisely the position is determined, the less precisely the momentum is known in this instant, and vice versa. --Heisenberg, uncertainty paper, 1927

In other words, we can't know everything. Heisenberg's theory may be in the realm of quantum mechanics, but it also sounds a lot like life.*

There are things of which we are certain, that are predictable, like tides and sunrises and sunsets. Like the tilt of the earth's axis and the composition of granite and the pull of gravity.

But there is also so very much we are unable to know. The mystery of love and how loving can both break and mend us. The “why’s” of death and dying. The questions of what tomorrow will bring. (Don't even get me started on dark matter.)

Right now I'm wondering who will be driving Roadcinante – or whatever she might be named – a year from now. Pondering if I were to sell my house, where would I go? Feeling uncertain some days about how to finish this book revision and find my story a home. Anxious and unclear as to whether I will ever have another journey like the one I had back when I was out on the road, chasing light.

Ah, well. Yet here we are and this is life, right? The mix and the mess, along with all the wonder and delight?

Just now the skies opened and the most beautiful rain started coming down. The birds are twittering with joy and a small chorus of peepers in the pond down the road are mentioning their approval. They do not give a fig that there are so many unanswered questions. They just keep singing their song.

Yesterday, to feed my soul I spent several hours at a friend’s goat farm. Spring is kidding season, and she has a bunch of new babies, several of them still needing to be bottle fed. After they had drained the bottles and their little bellies were full, we led them out into a new pasture where they frolicked and bounced, doing the happy little dances baby goats do for no apparent reason other than they are so very glad to be alive.

I guess that’s it, actually. My “to the bone” feeling of renewal is as simple as me remembering how lovely it is to be alive. To be here and now, yes, even in the midst of uncertainty and all the unknowns. It makes me want to do a little dance of my own.

What is it to be alive, anyway? Is it a thing in and of itself that can be measured, assessed, studied, categorized? Or is my life, is your life, in the dynamic, the interplay and overlap and exchange of energy as we share this common road of humanity?

I am uncertain. But here are some baby goats playing.

*(Many quantum physicists frown on people using quantum principles of which they have only the vaguest comprehension to philosophize. I’m sorry. I am doing it anyway.)

[Narrator: She is not at all sorry.]


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