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.
accuweather predicts a blizzard. and we wonder if it is truly imminent. on days of heavy holiday travel, there may be fierce winds, whirling snow, no visibility, bitterly cold temperatures well below zero. such extremes, circumstances that might dictate the comings and goings of loved ones trying to be together to celebrate.
we’ll keep watching the weather and the warnings. we’re hoping it’s wrong, that it’s exaggerated, that it’s cautionary but not totally necessary. that we will get to this day without the extremes.
it is days before the day before the eve of the day. and though i respect that app on my phone i continue to plan as if it will be days of celebration and joy and not snowplows and shovels and heet and de-icer.
there is still much to do. there are packages to ship, a few to wrap, a couple to deliver. there are trips to the grocery store and maybe a tiny bit of shopping. there is de-dogga-furring by vacuum and a little dusting and much tidying up.
and all the while sitting in the wonder of the season. people celebrating love and generosity, time spent gathered, kindnesses and the reminder of ancient stories carried into this time, open hearts, hope and light.
though we tried to identify this arm, the watchband and the bracelet, we have no idea.
someone texted us this photograph – sans words – and left it at that.
granted, there are plenty of texts that arrive from political groups, fundraisers, smarmy this-is-amazon-we-are-shutting-down-your-account-give-us-all-your-information-to-save-yourself. even the occasional “hi” from a number we don’t recognize or, worse yet, inappropriately vulgar texts coming from who-knows-where. but never a bottle of wine.
apparently, this is an expensive bottle of wine. we looked it up. it ranges in price from several hundred dollahs to several thousand dollahs – neither of which we could or would spend on a single bottle at this moment.
when i had dinner shy of twenty years ago in nyc with a radio program director of the biggest adult contemporary station in the metro area he ordered a bottle of wine. he also ordered truffles flown in from france earlier that day. sharp cheeses for in-between courses. port to follow the meal. i hoped and prayed that we weren’t splitting the bill. my work was on radio, slowly gaining, but he had an expense account. the expense account that i had was from my label – which i owned. i kept every receipt and documented everything, but there is that small detail of having the money to cover the expense…
the wine he chose was $250. a merlot. i can’t remember which vineyard, what year, or what area of the world in which it was produced. i just remember the price and that it was truly a lovely glass of wine, with depth and complexity and a delightful finish. it could have been opus one.
the entire bill was nearing $800 and, though it was an experience i won’t forget, all i could think of was that we could have had big macs together and chatted the chat we chatted and he could have donated the rest to a food bank in the city. the fancy-fance was somewhat lost on me…the backpack-toting-jeans-boots-wearing scrappy artist recording in the city. when i arrived, i had walked into a chic place, a stainless bar going the length of the restaurant, exposed brick, program director on a stool in animated conversation with the bartender, and the hostess – or was she the maître d’? – asked, “would you like me to check your ….errr…. backpack?” i declined. at that moment, that errr-backpack had everything in it…my purse, my clothes, my composing notes, my plane ticket, fresh socks, my toothbrush and a travel blowdryer. i couldn’t check it.
so the other day when this photograph arrived in our textbox, we searched the area code to see if we could figure out who it might be from. no luck. and no follow-up. we wondered if it was an ad or – in a positive foreshadowing moment – a glimpse of a package to arrive. such teasing.
i suppose we won’t ever know. nothing has arrived via usps, fedex, ups. though yesterday i did get an email that said my dhl package was waiting to be delivered – if i would just supply them with all my payment information and signature.
payment information? uh-huh. if it’s for that bottle of wine – the 1999 signed opus one bordeaux red blend – i’m gonna need to pass. exquisite will have to wait. maybe until opus two.
we don’t really know. we rise each day, bold coffee at our lips, with curiosity. truly, what the day will bring is a mystery. the best-laid plans, well, they are only that – plans. things change and the kaleidoscope swirls around us in mere moments.
“this being human is a guest house. each morning a new arrival…” (rumi – the guest house)
and we rise again the next day…
…the day lilies and the grass blades are rising as well. through the upheaval of their dirt, the excavation of their home, the burying of their fallowed stems, the netting and straw post-waterline-replacement, they are rising anyway.
my thoughts of pulling everything up and starting fresh in the front yard came to a screeching halt when i saw them. if they are resilient enough to bright-green their way into this upheaved spring, i think i would be somewhat dishonoring to remove them. in doing so, i would miss their profound message of fortitude, of courageous no-matter-what-ishness, of their coy laughter reaching for the sun.
“you are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.”(john green – the fault in our stars)
we miss it. in the middle of our don’t-really-know days, we miss seeing the absolute stalwart root in clay we each bring. we miss the credit of finagling another chaotic day. we miss our embrace of the new arrival of mystery. we miss our own unprecedentedness.
yet there it is. rising through the netting and the straw and the mud and the excavated rocks and cement.
“on the day when the weight deadens on your shoulders and you stumble, may the clay dance to balance you…”
some days it’s an everyday kind of day. other days it’s an everyday, elevated. today is one of those.
as i watch from the sidelines, younger women around me are becoming mothers. the transition to motherhood is one of the most astounding and profound changes. it impacts every thought, every action, every decision, that moment before you go to sleep and the moment you wake up. it is life-altering and all-consuming and intensely hard and magnificently rewarding. it is full of questions and overflowing with gratitude. there is no guidebook, instruction manual or pdf that will lead you through the bewildering times…it’s like a jigsaw puzzle without a picture with which to build it. a mystery of enormous love, of incredible connectivity, of letting go.
today i will see my beautiful daughter. it won’t be for very long, just a tiny time of adventure with her and her boyfriend, but it is a giant-flower kind of day. before i know it, this littlebitoftime will be past, but i will have had a chance to hear her laughter and see her face, hug her and stoke up until the next time. exquisite anticipation all week and i cannot wait.
time continues to peel back the layers. barney is vulnerable and is, thus, exposed.
artistry is like that. we share our vulnerabilities. we write, we paint, we compose, we lyricize – we peel back the outer shroud of mystery to reveal that which is inside. we take chances at judgement, at others’ opinions, at evaluation. we are exposed. and time goes on. winter turns to spring which turns to summer and then fall. the seasons take their toll; the seasons enrich us. both.
the first album i released felt earth-shaking. the notes – white and black keys tumbling from deep within – flew out into the world on a piece of polycarbonate, aluminum and acrylic plastic. what could be a coaster contained fifteen deeply-excavated emotions, musings each released into the light. exposed. the scraps of paper that gave birth to these were soon filed in a binder with invoices and order forms, designs and ups tracking numbers. one season. one album. done.
each original album since is no less an exposé. each still holds pieces of me, permission by me to be peeled back. a little less scary than the first but still risk-taking. vulnerability does not recede from the sandy beach as the big waves come and go. but it stands a little more stoic, with a little more sisu. the albums, like seasons, arrive when it is time. and they, in some way that albums might, tremble with anticipation and that tiny bit of fear that remains, even after many layers have been peeled. soon there will be no more black and white at all.
now i wonder if i will need shrink-wrap again. i wonder about recording. and i don’t know. yet. i do find that i am thinking of wooden stages and boom mics. i also find that i am thinking that all this writing – these written words on the page – have been feeding me and that hunger for polycarbonate, aluminum and acrylic plastic.
each day, barney and i age. the veneer blisters and the shell reveals our hearts. we are both emotional, barney and i. we are conscious of our craggier look, the wrinkles and the age spots. though we wonder about how we resonate with the rest of the universe-out-there, we take the dusty road together anyway and we hold hands, vulnerable together. though laminate no longer hides our souls, we are standing in the sun this season, new growth springing up.
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.
the sun set on another day on island. and the moon rose. who knew?
four years ago, when david walked down the aisle to this song, who knew? who knew what would come, what adventures would appear, what challenges would rear up, what tiny moments would tear up in our eyes, what heartaches would befall us? who knew? who knew what chaos would reign our world, what gentle calm would envelop us, what times with family would look like, what times without loved ones would feel like? who knew?
four years ago, when david walked down the aisle to this song, we were decades younger, starting out all over again, baby-stepping into an unknown, beguiling, mysterious future. who knew? who knew the times of decisions, of direction-choosing, of sacrifice, of abundance? who knew the dances we would dance, the cries we would cry, the pages of life filled with, well…life? who knew?
there we stood, last night, on the back porch, white happy lights glowing on the railing, watching the moon rise over our little bay, high in the sky, gigantic, tiny hog island in the distance. we wondered aloud, in wonder, about the wonderment of it all. who knew?
and now…….looking forward…..outward….onward….with great love….
in this great mystery of the circle of life, i can think of no better prayer, no better mind-heart-talk, no better statement of living, than these words. there is no partisan leaning, no self-serving ask, no specific request of a higher being. just words to aid the step-step-step of life…words to accompany a walk on this good earth in wonder, in love, in light.
this great mystery, pointedly mysterious in moments high above canyons, on shores where waves crash upon the beach, in the hues of a new day stretching as far as you can see, in the million stars reaching further than you can imagine…a mystery of existence…the question why-am-i-here looking for an answer.
the answer of this great mystery? never one thing. the answer is found in hospital rooms and hands joined in hope, in gales of laughter shared with loved ones, the highest joy moments in one’s life, the lowest crushing moments in one’s life, holding a newborn baby, embracing a failing parent, hearing the voice of one’s grown child, walking side-by-side with another on a path, the about-faces and circular confusion on those paths, love at its best, love at its worst.
in every corner of the globe are people living this mystery. each of these people breathe in and breathe out in the same way. it is part of this great mystery that this breath is even possible. if we can breathe in light, in strength, in love, in peace, in wonder, as one family, we will have embraced the prayer. the mystery will continue to be.