Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin
cswallow

This is Necessary

Today I lost control on the mountain. I hit a slick spot and was headed straight for a child sitting in the middle of the slope. The last millisecond came, I veered, came to a halt. Had anybody seen? Not Robert or Julia who came down after me. Not the child's family who were continuing about their conversation next to her. And I thought, is that the most meaningful thing I will have done today? Play God?

I came to the mountains seeking something true.

It had been some four years since I last stood on a ridge high above Lake Tahoe, felt that snow push through the skis against my feet, and struggled to hold my balance there. I am a better skier and athlete today than I ever have been before, and yet, faced with those feathery pines rising knobbily from the saturated earth and the endless olive mountain ridges rippling away to that robin's egg sky, I felt pushed to become even more.

Places hold power. When I return home, I cannot shake the constant sensations: the patter of Heidi nails on our wood floors, the warmth of lying still and quiet in bed next to my space heater, and the companionable clatter of pots and pans as my parents concoct dinner.

I arrive emptied, and the emotions of that place pour into me again; I become more myself, and yet someone I no longer recognize. Always it seems the people from those places - my parents, my former coworkers and mentors, the old and true friends who have known me (it seems, for always) - they show me my face, both lovely and flawed. And I, chastened and humbled and grateful, try to reflect them too. Under the influence of their conversation, I flourish once more.

I haven't wanted to write. For months I have avoided it. Writing publicly became as repulsive as showing up with winter-pale skin on a Brazilian beach - I may have an excuse for the state of my being, and perhaps I don't care what others think, but that doesn't make it any easier to reveal myself. I haven't been writing for work, and my personal journal entries have been terse and vague. Out of cowardice, I gave up this most-important part of me...and those who love me best let it happen.

Until when catching up with Derrick, I found him raising an eyebrow significantly and nudging me, "speaking of blogs..." I stuttered and made excuses, trailing off lamely "I know, I need to write..." He said quickly "catching up in person is much better," but I know the real message behind it -- who are you, if you are not bold?

In subsequent days I sat down many times to say something meaningful, and still the blank page remained so.

Last night we watched a string of poetic ski and mountain biking movies. Men and women flung themselves off peaks, dove into forests, embraced the edge of the unknown. In that darkness, pigmented landscapes from every corner of world flashed to adrenaline-pumped songs of longing and satisfaction, all seen in our tiny snow-encrusted piece of the world. The narrator said suddenly, (and I butcher this), "When creation overcomes the system, life begins."
That night, I begin to write, first huddled in bed with my journal. Now, this.

It's not easy to stay focused on the things that matter, much less to even recognize who and what matters, much less to prioritize the actions that will bring daily happiness (which sometimes means investing some pain and difficulty today to reap happinesses in 6 months or a  year, or...) I dance because it is daily happiness. But it isn't enough for me. Writing is necessary. Spending time with people in conversations that illuminate me and them and how we are in this world, is necessary. Creation is necessary too - in dance, in writing, in relationships.

I've been spending too much time living easily, saying "it is enough."  I return to New York on Monday. But such change cannot wait for the power of a place or a moment - it begins today.
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