I’m writing to you on a Thursday evening this week. By the time you receive this I’ll be off in a yurt in the woods in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, likely putting a log in a fire and trying to stay warm.
I’m going for the weekend with my brother Charlie, who is younger by eight years, and this will be the first time we’ll have spent such extended duration of time together as adults without our parents in the vicinity. CHENG BROTHER RETREAT, it says in my calendar.
The plans are loose: there will likely be hiking; there will definitely be a fire, or three; there might be some boating on the adjacent lake, called Keewaydin, which the internet tells me is Ojibwa for the God of the North, or the North Wind, or Home Wind. When I was looking at campsites, the name became the deciding factor, a kind of blessing in advance.
Robert Bly says the Romans believed each human being had an angel or “daimon” that came down through the family line. It was the seed of individual good fortune, called “genius” in a man and “juno” in a woman. What jumps out at me at this moment in my life is the bit about coming down through the family line, like an inheritance we get from the way our parents raised us, and the way their parents raised them. A buddhist might call it familial karma. And that it’s the seed is important. A seed is neutral. A seed is merely potential. A seed grows by the soil you plant it in, and the way you attend to it.
I turn 32 on Tuesday. I have a hunch the year to come will be much about seeds and dirt and roots and attention. “My eyes already touch the sunny hill … “ And what I feel is the wind on my face.