So, I sat by the fire and read The Snow Child. It had been nudging me for quite some time, unsurprising really, given the cabin in the woods and the snow thing that’s been going on for the last few months.
It’s rather lovely - a deceptively simple tale of a couple trying to forge a life in the harsh Alaskan wilderness. Their one child was stillborn and now they are too old to have children of their own. One day they build a child out of snow and give it mittens and a scarf. The next day the clothes have gone and the snow girl has also vanished. And then a child appears.
Is she real? Is she a creature of snow and ice? There is a blissful ambiguity about the book; it is never entirely pinned down. And yet the characters in the book try to pin down the girl, they try to tame her, to domesticate her, to pull her into their ordered world. They know, they are sure, they are certain, what should be done, how she should be. They try to help her out of love and caring but their control suffocates her; it is anathema to her, it is death. You can never tame a wild thing, nor should you try.
And it got me thinking along a pathway that I often think, when I think. That some things, many things, are ruined if you try to pin them down. That it is a mistake, particularly when it comes to things of the heart and soul, to seek to trap and bind and trammel and dictate. But it is hard. We humans love to impose our will – on everything and everyone. We like certainty; we like to know what’s what.
Ah but then, oh then, maybe the mystery, the beauty, the wildness is lost. For some things, many things, should not be pinned down; they should be left to breathe, to live their own life; to do their own thing. To be wild and free. When the wild flower is picked it wilts and dies. When the wild animal is brought in from the forest its eyes go dull, the fire leaves its belly. And, truly, we cannot ever own anything, not really. We can make contracts, we can sign papers, we can put our signatures to documents; or we can bind by ties and strings and snares of emotion - of love and hate and fear and guilt and duty. But nothing is ever really ours. Everything changes, everything is ultimately ephemeral.
They say that if you truly love something you should let it go. Or rather allow it the freedom to come and go as it pleases. Yet we cling, how we cling.
Sorry. Just thoughts floating round my mind like a flurry of snow.