Replacing Moose with Berries

Replacing Moose with Berries

This time of year is saturated with looking backward:

The top 100 songs of 2013
Personal “Best Of 2013” blog posts
The top 10 videos gone viral of 2013
The 25 most intriguing people of 2013

and forward:

11 Reasons to be optimistic about 2014
7 tips for weight loss in the New Year
What is your New Year’s resolution for 2014?
13 Lessons to help improve your outlook in the new year

To me, this reads:

What did you do this year?
Were you productive?
Did you look happy?
Were you enough?

And:

How are you going to be better?
More efficient and productive?
How will you matter more?
Will you be enough?

I love self-reflection. I love living intentionally toward personal growth. That’s one reason I contribute to this blog. I also like opportunities for fresh starts. I like turning points, stakes in the journey. But transitioning from 2013 to 2014, I have denied the memory lists and the resolutions. Looking backward and forward is making me feel spread thin and overwhelmed, like I have to prove something about my past and commit to monumental changes in the future. I find it all a little exhausting this year, and I’m sitting it out. My instinct is driving me inward, more deeply into the present moment. The voice inside is whispering to me that I’ve done my daily reflecting. I’m moving and growing every day. If I invest in the present moment now, I will have no regrets about today on January 1, 2015 that require ambitious declarations of personal change for the better. Whatever that means. Every inhale is a fresh start. If we count the mountaintop moments as more important than the mundane to our self-worth, we will never stop striving for more. We will never stop feeling not enough. My past year was full of mountaintop moments (as well as deep valleys) and I know my next year will be too. But lately, I have been marking my days with the power of mundane moments. The rhythm of drying dishes. The transformational beauty of a good morning kiss. The warmth of coffee. The ecstasy of a clever novel. Annie Dillard reminds us wisely, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” My days, and thus my life, lends itself to daily reflection and growth. I like how I’ve been spending my days. I like how I’ve been spending my life.

So friends, I leave you with a call back to the present breath. Back to the inherent worth in us all. With a yearning to let the moose run. A daily turning, instead, toward berries:

“But what,” badgers a relentless voice, “exactly are you doing out here? What are you accomplishing? What are you getting out of it? And what, oh especially what are you going to do with your life?”
The voice usually stops me. Knocks me down, kicks sand in my face. But this time, finally, I tell the voice to shut up. It’s a stupid question, what are you going to do with your life. Setting out to do something with your life is like sitting down to eat a moose. Nobody ever did anything successful with their life. Instead they did something with their day. Each day.
Sunrise is birth. Sleep is death. Each day is your life.
Let the moose run. Eat some blueberries.”
–Paddle Whispers by Douglas Wood

  • Julia

    I’ve been thinking about this blog these past few days. I’m always chiding myself to be better, figure it out, do more, be this, be that…. and to what end? As good as resolutions can be, it may lead to: “We will never stop feeling not enough.” That’s exactly it.

    Each day is a gift. Each day is something to be thankful for. Not just the monumental days. How many of us remember this? Thank you for the post.

    • Ellie Roscher

      Thank you for your comment! It’s hard sometimes because I really value the thing in me that wants to be better. I like to be self-reflective and always on a journey to be a better, more me version of me. But I also get tired. And finding a balance between growth and rest is important for me, at least, to be able to sit in enough.

  • Marie Tierney

    The Douglas Wood quote included is one of my favorites and I was just searching for the exact wording to send to a friend. To stumble upon it as the first result from google on a blog post from one of my most formative high school mentors seemed to only make it more important. So happy to discover this post Ellie!