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N. C. Wyeth, Snowbound
"I'm sitting by the fire looking out while also peering within."

My dearly departed friend III insisted that Boundary Was Everything, an apparently paradoxical statement in a world more recently interested in everything out-of-the-box, where boundaries exist only to be ignored. Get yourself snowed in, though, and my friend's assertion comes into sharper focus. Snowbound serves as a sort of instant self-discipline. If you can't go anywhere, you suddenly have no place to go. Whims simply stifle themselves. Whatever else my heart might desire, we're eating in again tonight. Like always, there's nothing actually on the television tonight. The fireplace shows better movies no matter how many times we've seen this one before. The cats curl up close as if trying to catch their fur on fire when the temperature difference between inside and out hangs in the upper sixties Fahrenheit. Snow continues falling after the first great shoveling. Candles glow half buried beneath that snow.

It's darker outside than almost any other night of the year. I cannot hear anything. Even the plow mumbles as it passes.
The garden gnome wears a white Punchinello hat. The railings, too, and everything outside suddenly seems new again, buff beige winter washed pure white. I can feel the world snuggling in around me. My internal life comes back to life as my external lives proceed without me. The GrandOtter and I dropped off The Muse so she could catch her flight to DC. We could hardly keep our eyes open through the pre-dawn drizzle while wending our way back up to the Villa where we both quietly retired while snow piled up outside. The space inside easily expanded to contain my dreams. I woke up to a seemingly different world, a -Bound day liberating me.

I once dreamed of stowing away in an isolated cabin over a long winter. I figured that there my creativity might overtake my many distractions. I imagined that I'd read by oil lamp and fetch wood from a shed outside and eat beans for every meal, just the deal, I thought, within which a budding writer might write. Unbounded, I seemed too distracted to properly attend to my work, as something always seemed to come up to pull my attention away from where I'd say I really wanted it to be. Attention flows wherever it wants to go with little real discipline involved. Pretending boundaries resolves nothing. Pretending discipline, even less so. One must, it seems, do just what one does while finding within that fuss precisely what one desires. It was never out there, but always in here. A -Bound-ary seems sometimes necessary to remind me of this humbling little truth.

Cities hold little the countryside doesn't offer. Anyplace might suffice for providing what I really need, for I still contain much unconsidered space within me, territory I usually ignore. I feel too free most of the time, liberated when I know I have an indenture to observe. I can too easily avoid my necessary work and even my essential play by roaming around unfettered all day; illusory freedom imprisoning me. When -Bound, it seems I've found a great gift, if I can settle in and take full advantage of it. My world, for a blessed day or two, might extend right through to the end of the driveway, but then only if I shove some snow out of the way. I shovel even though I know I'm not going anywhere. I shove to assert my space which extends precisely up to the boundaries for which I muster my respect. Begrudging or just humbling, my boundaries might become everything I desire. My work's still just beginning and without any finite ending imagined. I'm sitting by the fire looking out while also peering within.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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