Late February

Snow again today. We are running out of places to pile it. The lake is postcard-worthy, white expanses punctuated by ice fishing huts in Wolfeboro Bay set up in vague clusters, the closest of which is off Brewster Beach where, in six months time, kids will splash about and loons will call in the dark of early evening.

Ice fishing. I am a transplant from more temperate points south and am new to the concept. Here’s how I see it: winter can be brutal here – short days, lots of snow and cold conspire and breed claustrophobia. Some respond by bundling up, turning their faces to the wind, walking out to the ice, setting up a shelter in which they hunker down, auger a hole in the ice, see what nibbles at the bait. All the while they let their minds quiet or sit and talk and change their very perception of things – perhaps the point when the only other reward is a cold, malnourished bass.

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Jackson Barber ’17 (Corte Madera, California), spoke about meditation at Tuesday’s morning meeting. His words were wildly personal, real, meaningful. Words like self-awareness, transformation, joy, peace, light, spirituality. He totally pulled it off and kept the room’s attention.

At the end of his talk, Jackson invited anyone who was interested to amble over to Lord House that night for some meditation. Given the time of the year, I was worried that it would be Jackson and me, sitting in the Lord House living room and chatting because no one was interested.

My worries were a waste of energy because Jackson and an eclectic group arrived promptly and settled in to the living room. Forty-five minutes later, after faculty member Alicia Childers ‘01 led us through a pitch-perfect guided meditation, everyone saw, and, more importantly, felt the perception-changing point.

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Conventional wisdom suggests that the last two weeks of February are to be endured at these odd villages we call boarding schools as we await spring and all it brings. But I’ve come to think differently lately: I’m starting to see the value of bundling up and walking headlong into the cold wind knowing that being chilled and refreshed are different faces of a singular experience; and that finding a warm eddy for quiet is only truly meaningful when coming in from the cold; and, finally, that to merely endure and not savor moments is a failure of perception.

Onward to spring.

 

Photo courtesy of faculty member Barb Thomas