Live in the Layers

Japanese Fisherman’s winter jacket

Much as I love this semester’s batch of students, I am looking forward to wrapping up this semester this week, and getting started on the new schedule.  Many of my first years will continue on with me into second semester, but it will be in different configurations of classes, and this coming semester I will teach Drama and Creative Writing instead of Academic Writing and Writing Skills.  I like fresh starts, new plans, tabula rasa.  Part of me really resisted the fact that we still have a week of first semester to finish when we return to school, but a looser, more flexible part of me loves the rolling start, the fact that we don’t have to do it all at once, the beginning of the new year and the beginning of the semester.

I have recently become a little obsessed with Japanese boro cloths.  Traditionally, this was a mending process used by workers to create durable and often beautiful fixes to torn and worn-out clothing.  Instead of trying to create a look of new perfection, boro mending created a new cloth by layering patches and scraps with distinctive stitching, and the results maintained the integrity of the original cloth while making it a whole new thing.  It reminds me of the sense of layering in a palimpsest manuscript: the old part shines and twinkles through to the new.  Come to think of it, living in an area with layers and layers of history is sort of like a boro or a palimpsest–some days when I drive across the bridge, I am acutely aware of how this River was once the home and highway of the Susquehannock peoples, or how it was one of the waterways that people followed to escape the torment of bondage in their flight to freedom in the north.

As Stanley Kunitz’s “nimbus-clouded voice” suggests: “Live in the layers, not on the litter.”  May your new year be full of fresh starts and new dreams, but may the new be stitched and overlaid artistically and pleasingly upon the past that has birthed this new beginning.

(Tomorrow is the eve of Epiphany–what is the Aha that is awaiting?)

Gratitude List:
1. Rhythm and Schedules
2. Envisioning possibilities
3. Starting fresh
4. Layers
5. Choosing every day to live the life that I would love.  (That’s a John O’Donohue reference)

May we walk in Beauty!  May your possibilities be endless.


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