there’s no telling. no way to know. really anything. any. thing.
the mystery of the new year is enormous. giant arcing things will happen, life-changing. tiny morsels of moments will happen, life-changing. we have no way to truly predict. there is no artificial intelligence that can tell us the spectrum of life that we will experience in the new year. it is hidden in holiday wrap, too much scotch tape, gift tags that have become mixed up, like luggage on southwest airlines right now.
to greet it without a hint of anticipation, without a breath of celebration, without acknowledgement of the brevity of time, is to maybe miss it.
stardust falls on our shoulders as we walk into the turn of the year under the big, big sky.
there is no limit to how long you can stare at rushing water. cool mist enveloped us as we stood there, watching. in the land of 250 waterfalls, we, as even babbling-stream appreciators, stood and took in this gorgeous sight.
it is unusual for us to be in the midst of many people these days, even outside. yet, here we were, transfixed by the looking glass falls, along with at least thirty other carsful. everyone, with different accents and languages, exchanged greetings on the way up or down the rock steps. everyone was smiling. everyone was kind. the waterfall brought us all together before we parted and looked for the unbeaten path, the trail in the woods, the less-trod, less-populated places that would be quiet. in those moments of togetherness, though, the sheer force of the water spilling over granite seemed to be a cleansing balm to anything that would keep us all separate.
we stood still on looking glass rock trail the next day, just listening to the stream below us. a hiker jaunted by us, intent on making tracks. he turned around and asked us if there was something worthwhile to look at. that, in itself, was a funny question, considering the absolute beauty of the place we were standing. i responded that we weren’t looking, “we’re listening.” he nodded and said something about serenity, then pushed on.
if there were a place i could choose to stand as this year turns into next, i think i would pick one of the 250 waterfalls, or, for that matter, the stream. a reminder that all things keep moving. that everything is fluid. that the edges are smoothed by the water that runs over and over and over them. that dropping worries and angsts and all negativity into the moving, rushing fall or even the whitewater river or gurgling brook, will allow that very water to carry it all away.
“it’s time to let it all go,” he said as we were visiting together. he’s right.
as this year turns its head toward the sun of a new year, i drop it all into the water and start again. we are merely riverstones in this fluid looking-glass-filled life.
and the new year enters from stage right/house left and whispers to the middle of the old wooden stage. a slight and humbled bow to its foregoer, it beckons silence and quiet resolve.
we stand in ovation as we pine for its downbeat and new music, this new year’s promise. then we take our seats in the snow and turn our faces to it gently falling, flakes in slow motion, moments of fresh powder.
stillness commences and the hushed voice of what is to come lingers in the cold dark air around us. it is voiceless and indistinct; we lean in and listen for the timbre of the spirit of what will be.
and the snow whispers back to us, ever-fragile flakes, reminding us of its evanescence, of our impermanence, of the mystery of it all.
we rise and we walk into the woods, our feet crunching on the trail.
black-eyed peas. we are iso a recipe for black-eyed peas. we read that eating black-eyed peas on new year’s day brings general good luck and financial good fortune to the eater-of-the-peas.
we also read that we should eat pork – which might explain why my sweet momma often insisted on pork for new year’s day. apparently, the fact that pigs root forward suggests that the eater-of-the-pork will indeed move forward as well in the new year. we will stay away from chicken and turkey on new year’s day because chickens and turkeys scratch in the dirt and we have done enough dirt-scratching this year so would like to avoid that at all cost in 2021.
at midnight tonight – new year’s eve – we are going to open both doors to our house – the front and the back – to allow the old year – the mighty-roaring 2020 – to leave, exit, escape, make an exodus, get the heck out.
at midnight tonight – new year’s eve – we will have the stockpots ready and the big finnish wooden spoons. we’ll bang lids and pots together and drum on the metal as loud as we can. (i know it’s “loud-ly” but we are just going to be utterly loud!)
we are heeding any and all suggestions, any and all superstition, any and all custom so as not to impede 2020 and its mean-spirited-spirit to leave and also generously allow for a kinder 2021 to arrive. our list goes on…
yes. tonight we will usher out this year-of-years and, maybe like you, smooching with great expectation, we will greet the new year.
it is a new day. filled with new promise, new possibility, new adventure, new hope, new light. no matter what, the light comes. it cannot be snuffed out, for after every night there is day. it is sure.
we look to the horizon and, like the most exquisite of tall-stemmed flowers, we lean toward the sun. we grow. we rest.
we know, intrinsically, that even in circumstance where our own light is dampened, when it is dark, when we feel extinguished, exhausted, profoundly saddened, the tiny light that flickers from deep within, from others, from sunrise, can reignite our zeal, rejuvenate us, restore us, bring us bravely back to day.
happy new day. happy new year. happy new decade. happy new light.
conked out. it’s the end of the workday, the end of playtime, the end of the evening, the end of the month, the end of the year and they are conked out. so are we. with toys strewn about, they collapse on the floor, a wary eye on each other every so often, just making sure. but mostly, sleepy, eyes closed, soft sighs.
we feel the same way. conked out. it has been a year. tomorrow we’ll search for some sage to burn on the first day of the new year, smudging room by room, letting the snuffed flame’s gentle smoke chase out the negative and allow new light in.
conked out. it feels like a repeating theme…a basso ostinato…a foundation upon which we are all arriving at this last-day-of-the-year station. exhaustion seems to be the grounding venn diagram of all those we have spoken with. like lines of the composer john cage: dissonant polyphony, indeterminate chance-filled melodies, questioning, shapeless and yet heading in some vexing conclusive direction. 2019. confusing and atonal with a lack of rests, avant-garde, but in all the wrong ways.
as we approach the last minute of the last day of this year, we sneak a peek at the new year. new beginnings. we sigh. deeply. looking ahead.
i glance at a small sign i have on the wall. it is not without noticing the irony i read a quote from john cage, “begin anywhere.” a good place to go from conked out.
“…leaving to fill in the space called the future…”
yesterday is but a shadow now. we rise with the sun and the lingering shadows and shapes in the dusk-then-darkness-then-dawn quietly disappear. we can’t hold onto them, any of them, despite our sometimes-longing to do so. memories are like that. the moments we most want to remember…they slyly tiptoe out of our mind’s eye, elusive to our heart-threads trying to hold onto them. that is why i keep a calendar.
my calendar is written. with a pencil. every day i write in it, catching up what we did with our time, what we worked on, where we went, who we saw, maybe a new recipe we tried. mostly, though, i write down moments i don’t want to forget. milliseconds or minutes of bliss with a loved one, gorgeous things said, handholds or hugs that i want to keep feeling, things i want to memorize but know will slip softly into a recess that i may or may not be able to access.
on the first day of the new year (or the last day of the old year) it is my ritual to read every day, every log, of my year’s calendar. in that reading we are transported. to the places we went, the people we visited with, the exquisite times, the arguments, treasured mom-moments that have repeated-time-release joy. we remember things we had forgotten. we stand once again on the precipice above the canyon or the beach on the cape. we stroll once again under a canopy of spanish-moss-covered live oaks or the big sky of the high range mountains. we sit once again on red rocks or on the train to chicago or on the subway in boston or on the pontoon boat up north or on the high kitchen stools having potluck friday or on the raft or at the pub near where we scattered ashes one last time. we hike once again in the nearby woods, on the river trail, through high desert. we roadtrip, once again, heading east, west, south, north. we have conversation-snippets-to-remember once again with The Girl, The Boy, david’s parents, our siblings, nieces, nephews, dear friends. once again, we make music and art, we write stories and blogposts and press releases and letters and emails and texts; some we want to hold onto, even if just a word or two, a sentiment or two. once again.
we process our year. we see. we celebrate. we learn. we plan and we plan to not plan. we dream. we look to the future.