Who’s up for taking a moment to regroup? For me, the new year never feels like much of a milestone. Yes, it’s a great reason to get together with friends and family, to celebrate, and to be grateful. But, there’s something about March that really feels like a new beginning for me, personally.
It’s probably got something to do with turning a year older in March. I’m just a little bit sentimental and romantic, and this always seems like as good a time to reflect as any. I also get wrapped up in the inconsistent, erratic arrival of spring. The other day, 80 degree weather in Philadelphia was almost sensory overload. In the past few days, I’ve been reaching for my wool socks again to keep away the chill. And, now, we’re due for a bit of snow. This is March, in all its glory. And I love the wake up call it brings. After a long and monotonous winter, I need something to bring me back to my senses.
Sometimes, that wake up call comes from an unexpected source. I don’t know how you feel about astrology, but I often find that I’m turned off by the generalizations and horrible writing that accompany predictions based on zodiac signs. Just when I’ve given up on the idea, however, I read something that seems too acutely perceptive to be mere coincidence. Recently, it was the Harper’s Bazaar 2016 Outlook for Pisces that caught my attention:
“You may easily have the feeling of being an ‘old soul’ – like this is all a big dress rehearsal. After the long journey from Aries to Aquarius, at last, we land at the open shores of Pisces where there is heightened awareness and deep sensitivity to all humanity. . . You are here to show us all how to transcend this material world and laugh at the ridiculous parts of life. You are a master at perspective and this is what makes you so comedic.”
I do, in fact, identify with this description. Maybe now more than ever. Even in the moment, I’m often looking to place my experiences in the context of a greater significance. That’s not to say that I neglect the pleasure of living in the moment, either. I enjoy doing both, switching from one to the other with ease. This odd perspective brings a sense of intense clarity of vision, and drives my desire to express my thoughts.
I sometimes wonder if the way that I express myself in my posts seems too erratic, or too intense. Sometimes, I feel like my personality must have something like the effect of March weather: sensory overload resulting from harsh components that don’t appear to contribute to a cohesive whole. But, I assure you, this interplay of points of view is always at the heart of my observations.
I attribute this way of thinking and expressing myself, in part, to the impact of my favorite book. At this time of year, I’m reminded of my first experience reading Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa. I carry the essence of Dinesen’s words with me everywhere I go. There’s something deeply intoxicating about her rendering of surroundings and experiences in vivid, heartbreakingly beautiful detail. But, her words still manage to pull me back from the brink, to reinstate clarity and order, by putting each detail into the context of an entire life. Each experience contributes to an overarching point of view.
One paragraph in particular, from Dinesen’s remembrance of the African highlands she once called home, illustrates this power:
“The chief feature of the landscape, and of your life in it, was the air. Looking back on a sojourn in the African highlands, you are struck by your feeling of having lived for a time up in the air. The sky was rarely more than pale blue or violet, with a profusion of mighty, weightless, ever-changing clouds towering up and sailing on it, but it has a blue vigour in it, and at a short distance it painted the ranges of hills and the woods a fresh deep blue. In the middle of the day the air was alive over the land, like a flame burning; it scintillated, waved and shone like running water, mirrored and doubled all objects, and created a great Fata Morgana. Up in this high air you breathed easily, drawing in a vital assurance and lightness of heart. In the highlands you woke up in the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be.”
This, of course, is the inspiration for my blog title. It only seemed fitting, given that these words have shaped my entire way of looking at and processing life. With every experience I breathe in, with every thought that crosses my mind, with every feeling that lodges itself in my soul, and with every form of expression that leaves me in a corresponding exhalation, I live what I first experienced through Dinesen’s words.
So, I’ve shamelessly borrowed another’s framework in order to gain a better perspective on my own life. With each new experience, I add to this framework, all the while striving to master the perspective which my horoscope would have me believe is one of my defining characteristics. It’s nice to be reminded that there is a way to contextualize my experiences, and to bring shape to them through my unique perspective. In a small way, I hope to catalog this process here, and to encourage other people to strive for the same thing. It’s wonderfully empowering to take all of your experiences in your hands, and to weigh and consider each one in order to bring order to the whole, to find clarity.
This final provocation from my horoscope has encouraged me to forge ahead:
“Opt for a form of self-expression in 2016 which is uncompromising and so authentically you. No excuses. As you do this, any layers of pretense will fall away. You are truly the best actor that can play yourself so step into character, fully.”
While I am wholly committed to my point of view, that doesn’t mean that the final form of my self expression is set in stone. Through this blog, I’ve worked to create a space that is authentically me. If you’ve been kind enough to bear with me, I’d love to hear your thoughts. What do you enjoy reading? Short posts that express passing thoughts and sort of unfiltered emotions? Longer ones that put single experiences and pleasures into the larger context of a unique point of view? Is it effective, or aggravating, to switch between the two formats? Or am I mischaracterizing the effect of my various posts altogether? As always, thank you for joining me. It’s been a pleasure sharing my thoughts in this space.