The kingfisher plays with abandon on Halcyon Pond. He is not fishing, just joy-riding on the gusts, swooping and chattering. It reminds me of the happy accident that is this place.
“Halcyon” has always been a favorite word of mine. It is one of those words that is nearly impossible to explain, describing a state that you know but cannot express. We first saw this place when we were Washingtonians, temporarily in the area consulting. A small picture in a homes magazine lured us here, and then our histories took an unexpected turn. Without hesitation, we bought this home; two city dwellers drawn to a remote country home, drawn by unrecognized drives.
Shortly after we moved here, I named our home Halcyon Pond. I didn’t know then that this place would draw me close and hold me here. Having never lived anywhere else for more than three years, I never expected that 20 years later I would still be here. My neighbors are the frogs and toads, owls and kingfisher, turkeys, deer, and the occasional coyote or bobcat, though we don’t see them much any more. But of them all, the kingfisher is my favorite. With his raucous call and his overlarge head and beak, he represents the recklessness of the decision that brought us here.
One day during a conversation, a friend asked what “halcyon” meant. I was sitting near my dictionary and decided this time, rather than stumbling through inadequate explanations, I would look up the definition. And what I found startled me. The definition included the etymology of the word. I who pride myself on my knowledge of words and of Greek mythology found this. “Halcyon” is the genus of the kingfisher. It’s name derives from the Greek word for the bird who makes its home in the center of the raging North Sea, by creating a still place in the midst of the torrent and building its nest there. I was stunned by the confluence of ideas.
And Halcyon Pond has been true to its name. It is my place of contemplation and peace—the still spot in what at times has been a raging storm around me. My nest in the midst of the torrent.
I withdrew from the torrent in May of 2013, after the sale of the company which I had led as CEO during its wild ride. And now, when asked what I’m doing, it makes both me and my inquisitor uncomfortable when I answer “nothing”. “Nothing” has been comprised of contemplating, reorienting, learning who I am at my core, what I value and what, in this new phase of my life, I have to offer. This blog is my offering.
I have been fascinated since I was child by the paradoxes of life It is excruciating and exhilarating to sit at the pinnacle of a paradox and contemplate its disparate truths. The ever-shifting boundary between dark and light, between yin and yang, between life and death. The boundary that forms no division except in our imperfect understanding. It is at this infinitesimal point that the meaning of life resides. It is elusive, ephemeral, ineffable—all the complex, unknowable words that I love.
I am traveling two paths in exploring the paradox. Reflections on Halcyon Pond are contemplations on life. Beyond Halcyon Pond is where I will post travelogs that explore the paradoxes of human culture–differences that lead us into mortal battle, but which are underlain by identical dreams and desires.
I invite you to join me on this journey into the mystery…
My hope is that through it, you will join me in celebrating the paradox that is Life.