tone noun \ˈtōn\
9 a : the state of a living body or of any of its organs or parts in which the functions are healthy and performed with due vigor
b : normal tension or responsiveness to stimuli; specifically : muscular tonus
10 a : healthy elasticity : resiliency
b : general character, quality, or trend
c : frame of mind : mood
Around this time in the Gregorian calendar, many people pick a word — a single word — they wish to invoke, experience, or focus on for the coming year. I’m normally not a meme sort of person, but today, for this year, a word came to me. It’s a word that came up for me again and again in 2011.
I have a strong body, capable of birthing 8 and 10lb babies, of carrying my children in my arms and on my back, of giving massage as deep or as light as needed, of lifting and bending and dancing and loving. And I have a strong mind, capable of surviving infancy and toddlerhood and (as my friends call it) The Fucking Fours, of crafting words into shapes beautiful, touching, and persuasive in turn, of thinking deeply and broadly, of feeling deeper and acutely, of dreaming and laughing and dancing and loving.
But what I lack — no, what I have capacity and the desire to develop further — is the ability to move between these states. My mind is capable of so much focus, on a single feeling or an idea, and of so much breadth, so many feelings and ideas, but is not yet skilled at taking each in turn in a way that leaves me with tangible accomplishments (posts, submissions, lists, emails and obligations responded to promptly). My body is capable of so much strength, in a single feat and a long day’s endurance, and of so much relaxing, the deep, heavy stillness of sleep and meditation and doneness, but is not yet skilled at living in the vibrant space of readiness for each moment’s task, at organized and sensible transitions from relaxation to effort and back again.
Tone is the middle path, the ability to dance from one path to another as called for, the function of all muscles (in body and mind) working in harmony so no one bears excessive strain, the state of neither clinging too tightly nor allowing unbalancing slack. Tone is the goal and the way one gets there. Tone is harmonious, joyful, pleasant to experience — and with its efficiency can move mountains, change minds, and fix so many ills.
I long for so many things — excellence in parenting, in writing, in activism and intellect and academics, in body and music and my many professions, in housekeeping and homesteading, community and family — and I want them all right now, no waiting or work required. 2012 will not be the year all my dreams become real, not with an infant and a (soon to be) five year old, for this is the year of surviving, of thriving in small ways, of gummy grins and growing teeth and scooting-crawling-walking, of milk and foods and beginning of sibling boundaries, of fully living in each moment and then letting it go to allow for living in and loving the next. 2012 will not bring me “balance”, that elusive perfect mix (as if life were a recipe: 1/3 work and 1/3 family and 1/3 fun, stir and bake and eat a slice a day); but, I hope, I will dance and rest and live this year in vibrancy, moving ever more easily between this moment, and this, and this.