I made up a word.
I was on the road, which I am a lot these days, and I was looking at all the beautiful colors of Virginia, right outside of Hot Springs, where the farm fields were straw colored and wintered and the smoke from chimneys was twisting through the black asleep trees. The sky was that heavy winter blue that has no name, which against the dormant fields reminds me of a bird's feathers, for some reason. (Some brilliance juxtaposed with something neutral seems to be the habit of feather color.) I was thinking about how these colors are familiar to me, together as they are, and have a distinctive way of spelling winter in the country, and telling a story about this winter just being another cold spell in time, this field being just another crop, this cow moving atop the silage being just one of a billion fantastic mysterious and small lives roaming about on the Earth.
For some reason, I started to think about how there aren't that many people who know those feather colors, and not that many people who have seen the land change and stay the same, for years upon years upon years. And thereby there are even fewer people who have breathed the land's habits into them, especially the way the land does such a breathtaking job of remembering every passage of plow or plant or flood, but somehow does not fail to renew.
What is that? That valuable quality that I just captured-- what's the word for it? I thought and I thought. Rurality. That's what I want to call it. The raw, uneven yet utterly graceful quality that the land has, to lodge what the past served up (be it good or bad), and then turn over again, lovely as ever. I want to call it rurality and I want to cultivate it in my own life. Which takes less sentimentality maybe than one might think. It might rather take more sense, more circularity, and more selflessness than emotionalism.
I'm moving soon, to a beautiful house I've purchased with my love, and with all of our children, and the fact that such a happy, beautiful settling down to root is happening after five very tumultuous years of transition, success, and sorrow feels so deeply restorative that I can hardly hold it all. So, as I drove through wintery Virginia at dusk, I did my very best to reflect on everything I've learned since my divorce, since I lost my farm, restructured my professional life, my community and my soul, and make connections between all of that and this awesome future I'm building.
It takes quietness, for sure, and it takes change, in order for rurality to be strong. And I think it actually takes less doting on oneself or struggling to improve oneself than all the self-helpers out there might tell you to conjure in your mindfulness books and trainings. Perhaps, just as this year's crop, or this year's winter, or this here cow, breathing atop the silage, I am just one small speck. And therefore I am not important enough to labor endlessly over my own healing, nor am I important enough to berate or to loathe. I'd rather just try to be like the land. Willing. Open. Raw. Resilient. Inspiring. Life-giving. Enough.