Emboldened by a stretch of time without a single mark on the agenda, I write.
Made brave by the frigid outdoors, which does not penetrate the insulated walls of my home, I write.
Maybe that means I’m not really brave. Curl up in a comfy comforter with a good book is today’s overriding desire.
Ready or not here comes the New Year! Welcome it or not, change is constant.
A few courageous curled leaves cling to the oaks that cluster behind the house. Our backyard, my husband’s and mine, moves abruptly from manicured lawn and semi-well-tended gardens with fieldstone paths, arbors and landscaping blocks to the wild untended forest preserve behind.
Deer poke curious glances through the windows when a light flashes on inside at dusk. They come in packs. Little parades of winter wanderers search for tidbits of nourishment. Fawns amble slowly as they sniff flattened lily leaves and move on. Their gamboling newborn freedom has solidified in the ever-present need to survive.
Hunting season in Michigan culls the herds. This year, I’m astounded, the number of hunting kills dropped by over 100,000. Yes, 100,000 less deer shot. Hunting these gentle creatures has lost some of its allure. Only—only? –243,000 killed this year.
I don’t know about you, but my jaw has dropped. My eyes bug out. I check several sources for the truth of this number. It is a fact.
What to do? What will happen? If nothing is done, the herd will die of slow starvation. At this point, in my own yard they nibble at remains of succulents and fire bush bark I’ve planted. I know deer love these plants and therefore do not mourn their loss.
I mourn the slow starvation. The hungry look of deer with ribs showing. Without energy. Eyes vacant.
My heart refuses to search for which state department will shoot the deer it feels is necessary to keep the remaining deer healthy and able to find enough hiding spots to birth new fawns in the spring.
How does this generalize into how you and I balance our lives in the winter?
How does it apply to Mario of My Life?
Too much of anything and death stalks it. Death searches out excesses and becomes the predator.
Mario did not have enough of anything, except for heart. In that, he had abundance. In losses—abundance.
He could easily have begun to take advantage of his benefactors, yet it never crossed his mind. Never touched his soul.
Mario could not let mourning dominate his life. He would lose energy. Become a namby-pamby nothing. A parasite sucking nutrients from others.
Absolutely not possible.
Mario began his balance by not accepting excesses. Check out the banker who told Grandma Jana he would never amount to anything.
How did he live and how was he able to give back?
He had mountains for teachers. He was that shoeshine boy who shined. He shined so brightly in his actions that he spawned a novel and life for those who search for the best.
Instinct led his choices, didn’t it?
If you haven’t read Mario of My Life, use this winter to find out for yourself your own balance and purpose in life.
If that isn’t enough, reread The Elephant in the Room, it will turn your socks purple. The reality and balance of the two books has me still scratching my head in wonder.
How can I learn from my own writing? Easily. It is a visceral process that generates its own loop of learning.
We all need elephants in our lives and Marios in the warm comfort of our rooms in order to thrive.