That’s How it Feels From Here

Coming in from morning chores at 25 below zero. Last day of the cold snap. 

Yesterday a warm and lashing rain, the snow disappearing fast, rivulets of water running down every slope, the tarpaper on the unsided exterior walls of our home ripping in the wind, the torn flaps thumping against the house. Hearing this in the night I had a sudden reminiscence from childhood, of how the branches of the trees by the cabin would rub against the roof in the wind, and how much I liked that sound. Yet I can’t be certain this happened; it was so long ago. So perhaps the memory is false, but I like it anyway.

By this morning, we’d lost 80% of the snow or more, though the temperature had dropped in the night, and the rain had turned over to ice, and then the ice, slowly, by degree, to snow. It is snowing now. I did chores with my shoulders hunched against the weather, 10 degrees and windy, the driven precipitation – whatever it was, snow, ice, sleet, freezing rain – sharp against my face.

Now we are firmly into the New Year. I am not one for resolutions – they’ve always felt too unyielding to me, and in my experience, that which does not yield eventually breaks. But I like the idea of intention, and if were to name my intentions for the New Year, I suppose I’d put openness at the top of my list. I’d like to remain open to possibility, to change, to being wrong, even, and therefore, to being humbled, because I think it’s a gift to be humbled, and I’d like to not lose sight of that.

I am doing some new things this year: For the first time, I am teaching a writing and speaking class at a nearby college, something that only a year or so ago, I would not have thought possible. Likewise, I have been accepted into the MFA program in creative non-fiction at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, though whether or not I will actually attend depends on a handful of contingencies, including finances, logistics, and (I’m not too proud to admit) basic courage. It is a funny thing to consider returning to academia, having dropped out of high school, and with only a modicum of experience in college-level learning. Sometimes I do not doubt my capacities; at other times, I do, a waxing and waning I have come to understand as being inherent to the human condition. Or to my human condition, at least.

And I am doing some things the same. Still writing for Yankee magazine, and grateful for an amazing editor there, and the latitude he gives me to follow my whim. Finishing up an illustrated book with a good friend, and cooking up more book ideas. Heather and I have a project in the works that we’ll be announcing soon. And I continue my work with Rural Vermont, an organization I love dearly, partly for the work we do, but equally (if not more so) for the people that comprise the “we.” I like people, always have, and the older I get the more I like them, the more I seem able to accept their quirks and outright flaws, even as I become more accepting of my own, more able to chuckle at them, and to present them to the world without embarrassment or shame. Well, most of them, anyhow. There’s a correlation, of course, between acceptance of self and acceptance of others. But you probably knew that.

I hope to continue writing here – no, I’m sure I will – though my schedule is busier than it once was, and perhaps about to become busier still. But in so many ways, this remains my favorite outlet, free of the pressure of money and editorial expectation, and always greeted by a gracious, compassionate, and generous readership. Or that’s how it feels from here, and I am ever-grateful for it.




13 thoughts on “That’s How it Feels From Here”

  1. I do not remember where I got the link for your blog but I an so glad that I did. I would be sad if you did not write here anymore. I look forward to it and it’s one of the only one’s that I read faithfully without skipping!

  2. All wonderful things, for you and your family, Ben!! Happy (and so very grateful) that you intend to still write here. Your writings have been such a blessing to me. So very happy for you!

    God Bless and Happiest of New Year’s.


  3. Congratulations on the teaching gig and the Mfa thing, whether you partake or decline. And yes to the upside of aging, the interest in and acceptance of colorful people. It’s been a while. Happy new year to all!

  4. So glad to hear this update. I love that I have been able to enjoy your words in so many venues, from when you did almost daily blog postings and the flurry of book releases to unexpectedly finding an article of yours in a copy of Outside magazine I thumbed through at the dentist. Oh, and the interviews, too! Can’t forget those as it is fun to put a voice to the…well..voice. I’ve been inspired and challenged by your writing since the beginning (I think about 6 years now) and I look forward to that continuing. Peace and Best Wishes in all your endeavors!

  5. I am grateful you intend to continue your blog in the new year. I so look forward to them. I feel a calmness and contentedness from your posts. (Of course I’m reading in my cozy chair while you are the one out in negative degree weather for morning chores/easy for me to feel content;) I believe that contentedness only comes with a living a life in tune with the natural world and our own beliefs. Good luck with all your plans for the 2018.

  6. I am grateful that despite a busier schedule (than usual) you will continue sharing your writing here. It’s good – and much needed & appreciated – medicine. Thank you Ben!! Congratulations on so many wonderful opportunities!

  7. Hi Ben,
    Just wanted to encourage you in the academic arena. I quit my job and went back to college last year at age 49. It’s turned out to be the most empowering, enlightening experience. Scary, hell yes. Exciting, too. Fun, believe it or not. Hard, sure. I’m learning from great teachers again, and sharing ideals with like-minded folks, some much younger than me. It’s really opened me up in ways I didn’t expect. And on a side note, it’s kinda fun to sit down with my teenagers and do homework together. I think they’re seeing that learning happens at every age. Anyway, whatever you decide to do, I enjoy reading your posts here, and I wish you all good things in the future.
    Cheers, Elizabeth

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