I spent a great deal of time this week, wondering what I would write about, not only for today’s paper but for the next two as well. Between holiday publication schedules and vacation plans, I need to deliver three columns before I head west on Sunday morning.

There’s been a lot of getting stuff done in my life lately. Sometimes I move so quickly from one set of tasks to another, and another, and another it feels as though I left my breath back in the kitchen with the soup simmering on the stove.

But now the freezers are full and the gifts are wrapped. The cookies for the office party are cooling on the racks and the last guest’s bedding has been packed away. The apartment can use a vacuum and, because I forgot to get quarters last week, laundry still needs to get done. But I don’t work on Friday or Saturday. Cat sitters are arranged.

Sunday morning I will meet family at a favorite Sichuan restaurant in Massachusetts at noon and that evening, Christmas night kicks off the last day of Chanukah this year.

One of the things I toyed with writing about, earlier this week, was indecision, about the self-blame over an unfortunate choice that can stop you in your tracks. For me, it can manifest as the decision to stop making any decisions at all.

There are such things as decisions where none of the choices are good, where doing nothing seems best. I spent quite a few keystrokes exploring that particular source of depression thinking about the clouds so many of us live under and how such self-doubt can make it hard to enjoy this not-always-most-wonderful time of the year — and then I went for a walk.

And then, this morning as I contemplated breakfast, my particular friend texted me.

“Walk?” he asked.

This friend has been getting me out into the fresh air for some decades now. Today we followed one of the Georges River Land Trust trails in Cushing, stepping on the wonderfully soft needles lining the path, among small birds who never got quite close enough or sat quite still enough to identify, alongside moving water, next to moss and lichen covered ledges, and into the mystery of life.

After Christmas and Chanukah have passed, as this old and tired year slips away with the last long nights behind us, I will drive to a small town in New Hampshire, leave my cellphone with my car, and spend a few days with Buddhists.

I don’t really know much about Buddhism, except for the practice of sitting without expectation. It is not easy for me to be still, to let situations unfold and just breathe, but I am learning.

There will probably be other opportunities to sit and breathe before I get to New Hampshire. We are in the middle of an intense period of getting together, at the end of a fairly intense year, after a couple of years of not gathering in bunches. None of us are terribly socialized at this point. We have all been talking to ourselves far too much and probably not, as the online yoga teacher who helped me get through isolation might say, putting our thoughts to one side and focusing on the movement of air in and out of our bodies.

Even on the trails we can forget to stop and hear the birds. In a room full of family history it is easy to get caught in the drama of human engagement, rather than listening for the sound of life, moving through us, sending us the unanticipated along with the expected.

Whatever name you give to your days, this week, I hope you find the gifts between the getting things done, the moments of right here, right now. I hope the presence you share is a gift to all those you encounter.

Shlomit Auciello is an award-winning writer, photographer, and human ecologist who has lived in Midcoast Maine since 1988. Letter From Away has appeared online and in print, on and off since 1992, and is published here on a bi-weekly basis.