Saturday, March 13, 2010

Tracks in snow

I took a walk in the field below our house this morning with our dog, before the sun had yet come up. The wind was unceasing and biting, in spite of temperatures that have been melting our snow-pack steadily for a week. Not many days ago, if I tried to walk in our fields or woods, most of my steps were ones in which I put my foot down in one place but it slid to a new one before my weight was even resting upon it. Enough of the snow is now gone, that ones feet mostly stay where you put them, when walking. As i moved south across the meadow on the path that I mow in the summer, I found my own tracks. I had taken our son and a friend to a slope below the house, for some sledding, twice during the winter, and here were tracks from one of those outings, that had been buried under a foot or more of snow, for a month or more. It got me to thinking about the evidence for global warming that has been trapped in ice and snow for hundreds of thousands of years. It also got me thinking about the impact one person may have on others' lives, or even on their own. I could, by looking in my diary, figure out what day we had made those tracks. But I couldn't have found those tracks a few days ago, before the layers of more recent snow had melted. The sun and warm air had done what I could not. I had an experience yesterday that was a similar sort of liberation, perhaps. I had been told that a person who joined our fire department when I was an assistant chief, had said that he'd not been effectively engaged in learning how things work, and being trained so he could be active. I had taken this as fact, and assumed some of the responsibility for his never getting very active in the department, which is very much in need of people to fill offices and get things done. Yesterday, I saw him on the street and had a chance to ask him if he could serve in some more active role, or if he would at least recommend people for those roles. In introducing that possibility to him, I said I'd understood that he'd felt neglected in those early days. He said that no, everyone had been friendly and engaging, and that he never had felt ignored nor neglected. For years I had carried a load of guilt around, thinking I had been responsible for his hurt feelings and his not being active in the organization. I don't know if whoever told me that, had misunderstood something my friend had said, or if I had associated the guilt with the wrong person, or whether he had simply stopped feeling that way, but it was like that depth of snow that has melted from our meadow, was lifted off in an instant.
Why I carry such burdens around with me, I don't know. I know I come by the propensity due to inherited traits from my ancestors, both learned and genetic. But I don't know why I don't throw off such burdens, psychologically and emotionally. I know they steal buoyancy from my spirit, but it is difficult not to cling to them.
Well, at least there is one less of them, now.

1 comment:

Sherman Clarke said...

You carry those burdens around because you are your mother's son. She always carried guilt that she wasn't as good as she could have been. And by good here, I mean the right kind of good: caring, sharing; not goody two shoes (wherever that saying comes from, and I could probably check it out). We are victims of our specific upbringing as well as great peer pressure.

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I've been a number of things over the years: husband, father, environmental technical specialist, college instructor, carpenter, volunteer firefighter and ambulance driver, student of Lakota and Japanese languages, technical writer, process engineer, research technician, IT technician, emergency dispatcher, etc.