Sunday, December 20, 2015

A New (old) Thing

I ice skated when I was little, but when I did it again in college, I could barely stand up. Everyone says you don’t forget how to ride a bike, but apparently, you can forget how to ice skate. Much, much later, when Sophie was little, we faced a snowless winter in Anchorage. Without cross-country skiing, we had to pull out ice skates or we’d suffer terminal cabin fever.

Which is beginning to look a lot like this winter. So, after twenty years, I pulled them out again.

As we reach Solstice, things are very, very dark. Darker than other years, but I think that’s because I have three big windows that look out … on the dark. In my last office, I didn’t even have a window in front of me. I would go to work in the dark and not notice HOW LONG it stayed dark. I would leave work in the dark, not knowing HOW LONG it had been dark.

Now I know, and it’s A LOT of dark.
So just when I’m remaking my personality and trying to be a more generous spirit as my Third Third gift to myself and the people around me, I’m facing the dark. Dark = grumpy, but I’m fighting it off. So when Tim suggested ice skating, I didn’t growl, complain, or ignore him. I didn’t bury myself in a book, look for a DVD, or start on some chores. I went downstairs and pulled out the skates.

I remember when they first started clearing Westchester Lagoon. Families came out, little kids pushing chairs around to help them balance. Some fancy ice skaters, some just skating and talking. The air was crisp, people were smiling, coming together as some great winter community. Sophie was learning to skate, excitedly chattering away at us. Tim can skate backwards – he played hockey – but I was holding my own. I actually remember it as one of the truly Golden Moments of my life; all was well with the universe, with Alaska, with the winter, with our family.

The problem with remembering a Golden Moment is that they can’t be duplicated or repeated. You can’t walk into an experience expecting a Golden Moment. They have to sneak up on you unawares.

If you’re approaching your first time on skates in twenty years with a certain amount of trepidation, fear, and dread – but which you are disguising because you’re remaking your personality – and if you remember that glorious golden time, a sort of loss sweeps over you. I think sometimes Third Thirds have this: a time or place where memories rush in. Sweet memories, but memories nevertheless.

And then you have to get on the skates. I never fell! One circuit around, and Tim commented that I no longer looked like the Tin Man.
Two circuits around and I didn’t have to flail my arms around like a windmill.
Three circuits around and I felt smooth. Four circuits around and I felt punchy with sloppy legs. I remembered that I used to turn corners by overlapping one foot over the other but that seemed kind of elusive right now. But, hey, I skated! I’ll do it again tomorrow. And the day after that.

Dread was gone, replaced by exhilaration. By being outdoors, in the light. By conquering both fear and sluggishness. By identifying a New (old) Thing I can do and get better at. By setting myself up to be ready for a new Golden Moment (should it just happen to pop up and enter my life).

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