Winter Solstice 2022

3 minute read

I started the day busy with my backpack, trying to decide what to bring with nowhere to go. I’m taking a couple weeks off work for a winter break and determined not to squander any minute. I could venture out of my neighborhood, walking 10-20k steps, visiting libraries and museums, and either finish reading the remaining volumes of In Search of Lost Time or study the books I’ve collected this year on a shelf dedicated to physical health, sports, and meditation. I would clock in 3h of immersion in the Chinese language somewhere in between.

I kept walking in a looped square between the kitchen, the bedroom, the living room, and the front door, checking everything before I could leave. It was getting late in the morning and I was hungry. I wanted to check out a new café, but it would make more sense to have coffee and breakfast at home first. In one hand, I was clutching a fistful of rulers. In the other, I was removing a trio of stowaway stuffed animals from my bag and lining them with regret along the edge of my desk. It’s hard to travel as lightly as possible. A colleague walked into my room at sunset and laid down on her side at the end of my bed, watching me, until I heard the sound of Björk’s “Alarm Call.” It doesn’t scare me at all.

I was startled awake but told this app that I’m feeling “content” because I was able to get 8h of sleep and because after reading a book on Taoism, I’m reminded that I am under no pressure. Today, I told myself, I’m going to do whatever I want. Then I’m going to document it in the most tedious step-by-step detail.

I looked up Duke Ellington’s “Overture” from the Nutcracker Suite. It was selected by Clemency Burton-Hill as the classical piece of the day in her book, Year of Wonder, and I’m delighted to learn about this album that I can now put on repeat during this time of year. I listened to it while brushing my teeth, while dropping my night guard into a mug of sizzling blue tablet water, while replying to my brother’s texts on life lessons from music, while rolling out my yoga mat, blue like a stream of water.

I pressed the shortcut on my phone home screen that opens up my morning exercise, an 8m mix of superman, knee raises, leg lifts, bicycle crunches, side lunges, and jumping jacks. Then I pressed the shortcut for my 12m guided meditation and removed my glasses to blur my surroundings. I breathed in through my nose and out through my mouth and let my mind wander into personality types, speculating on the durability of people’s marriages, realizing I have been rather careful about welcoming newer friendships, how I have indeed been scarred by a past one, feeling terrified that I will not be able to show up for friends in the unique ways they each need during their moments of grief, and dreading how shameful it would be to age and still lack the emotional maturity that is expected to match it.

I starred these reflections to revisit later. I gazed into the back of my adorable cat’s head. I forgot then refigured out how to update this complicated “static site generator” blog. I noticed a silvery strand of hair and plucked it out to examine it. I stepped out to the grocery store to pick up salmon, spinach, whole bean coffee, almond milk, and a bunch of mini chocolates, in preparation for this -40°F blizzard. I walked in warm, 31°F weather to have dinner with a new friend from kung fu class. I received a surprise package of treats for me and Raindrop from M. I washed the dishes and heated up a mug of glühwein. I sent a late text wishing my oldest friend a happy winter solstice ✨