In the winter woods the world is all black and white, branches and trunks and twigs crosshatching against the sky and snow. Here there are edges and limits: the white polyhedra of sky with hard black wooden frames, the unambiguous snowline between earth and heaven, the icy and unyielding tree bark, the frozen water, even the mucus building up in my esophagus to reinforce the boundary between me and the chilled air. The woods are drawn with pure black ink on pure white paper.
We walk out, listening to the silence enclosing the small sounds of our boots in the snow and the little whispers of wind. At the top of the hill, we can see the lights of the homes and streets through the trees, a sea of city surrounding an island of park. We are going down into the woods to meditate and connect with the new moon, the new sun, and the new year.
This is the shape of a world at its birth: simplicity, edges, purity. At the beginning of the universe, mass and energy were one, and the four forces were united into a single field, in a cosmic egg of such primal simplicity that it had no size, shape, or duration. And now, with the rebirth of the small, weak sun, the world is reduced to frozen waste punctuated by isolated chunks of hibernating life, each huddled alone against the cold.
Loneliness may not be pleasant, but it is simple.
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