Well folks, another year bites the dust. So goes 2016; fading from view, receding in the mirror, evaporating in the mist of time and space. Probably many are cheering good riddance and bring on a new and better year. The passage of time; straight, chronological and sequential, disposes us to linear thinking. A leads to B, followed by C, etc, etc. But do our lives truly unfold this way? Or are they more circular, buffeted constantly by the winds of change and unpredictable events?
All of us experienced some form of change this past year. Much of it good; perhaps a new job, a home, a grandchild or some other positive experience. Many have tasted the bitter sadness of life brought about through the loss of loved ones, friends, health or security. But the undeniable truth is that we all lived this year as it came to us. And if you are able to read this you have lived to see the dawning of a new one. So give yourself a gold star, you are a survivor.
To be alive is to be challenged. Life is designed to be hard and people similarly created to cope with it, engage with it and remain awake and involved, not timid and passive. I don’t mean to imply that one must be a raging, extroverted, hard-driving dynamo. We have plenty of these in the world and they’re doing just fine, thank you. But for the rest of us, rather than just breathing the air, or marking the days off the calendar as they slip from our grasp, we are better rewarded by engaging in life at the level we were meant to. Taste the joys, feel the sublime pleasures, share a laugh, give a hug, watch the sky, bring the hope.
You may be saddened by the loss of someone who meant so much to you. This person may have been your spouse, brother or sister, child or best friend. Remember that as much as they meant to you, life is a two-way street, and you meant that much to them and more. You shared the gift that mattered most, the gift of yourself.
Many years ago, a very wise friend told me that on every New Years Day he would make a list consisting of three things he hoped for, three things he feared and three things for which he was grateful. He found that by doing so, he could lay out some hope for the future, give a name to the things that troubled him, and express gratitude for his present and his past. He then would seal the list in an envelope to be opened on the following New Years Eve.
I do the same now and when reviewing my list, am often amused that the things I feared the most rarely came to pass. Some hopes were realized, others will be renewed for the coming year. Gratitude, at this place in life where more years belong to yesterday than tomorrow, is a daily thing. Blessings untold; the pleasures afforded me by the people in my life, the opportunity of expression, the quiet joy of solitude, the mystery of existence.
Let me close by wishing you all every blessing and hope in the next year. This past one was a doozy, but we’re still here, just as we are supposed to be. The passage of time will illuminate the good things and dim the glow of the more forgettable ones. And for a quiet, contemplative farewell to 2016, the opening verses of “Years End” by poet Richard Wilbur seem appropriate.
“Now winter downs the dying of the year,
And night is all a settlement of snow;
From the soft street the rooms of houses show
A gathered light, a shapen atmosphere,
Like frozen-over lakes whose ice is thin
And still allows some stirring down within.”
Happy New Year