“Songs,” he added, “are thoughts, sung out with the breath when people are moved by great forces and ordinary speech no longer suffices. Man is moved like the ice floe sailing here and there out in the current. His thoughts are driven by a flowing force when he feels joy, when he feels sorrow. Thoughts can wash over him like a flood, making his blood come in gasps, and his heart throb. Something, like an abatement in the weather, will keep him thawed up. And then it will happen that we, who always think we are small, will feel still smaller. And we will fear to use words. But it will happen that the words we need will come of themselves. When the words we want to use shoot up of themselves—we get a new song.”
–Uvavnuk, an Inuit elder, from the introduction by Edmund Carpenter to I Breathe a New Song: Poems of the Eskimo, by Richard Lewis, Simon and Schuster, 1971
It’s the day before we leave Vermont and I wish I had a new song to describe all the mixed feelings that are swirling inside. I have to mop the floor. I have to pack my bag. I hate to say goodbye to the woods and the lake but I suppose I’ve been doing that for days. Took my last swim yesterday and the crisp water temporarily cleared the hard truth of our imminent departure. For the thirty minutes it took to swim across the lake and back, and when I took a rest and floated, staring at the cloudless sky above me, I forgot I was leaving.