The Soul in Winter Solstice
Opening at the Close I say goodbye to each year on Winter Solstice, not on New Year's Eve. That long winter's night seems like a better time to say farewell to the year's challenges; to reflect and peer around the corner. Or maybe I mark time this way because of some genetic residue from a pagan ancestor. Regardless, I love the Solstice and its adjacent symbolism. We used to mark the transition from waning to waxing light with a raucous party, but that tradition vanished with the pandemic. Now it's a quiet affair on a quiet night which suits me just fine.
I am escorting a different self into next year. Even though I am collecting grey at the temples, I feel rejuvenated. My cancer treatment is done. My new business is gradually growing despite all of the beginner’s mistakes. Our family weathered many changes but has finally found a new rhythm and happiness. The pandemic still flourishes, but now we have hope and better vaccination numbers.
Resolution Blues My attachment to making New Year's resolutions started early. Every year I would pen a long list of resolutions into my journal and, until I became a furtive teenager, I would solemnly present my list to my parents. My mother's response? "My, but you are ambitious." She thought resolutions were invented by sadists to make us feel guilty when we inevitably failed to realize them. She had a point. Perhaps I took after my father. On the other hand, he was always up for self-improvement so had no need for a prompt at the start of each year. His library had books like Improve your Memory! Ski like a Pro, Improve your Tennis Serve. Change your Attitude! He was into self-help before it was a monster market, before all those invocations to be more fabulous stacked up on every bedside table and wound up at a yard sale. I thumbed through old journals to remind myself of my youthful earnestness. One year, I had no less than 51 resolutions. Here are a few: Eat less bread and cheese. Find a boyfriend. Find a boyfriend who gets me. Floss more. Don't be so sensitive. Be more patient. And a few surprises: Learn Greek? Visit Petra? Learn how to dance like Ginger Rogers (this makes sense.) Learn how to code? Get good at chess? Read Ulysses.
These days my goals are a bit more oblique. No diet or fitness goals. No learning a new language. Not precisely resolutions but destinations. So here is where I want to go.
Letting Go and Letting Go of Being Right Change makes me cross. So letting go is a constant discipline. As for needing to be right, that can be another way to stuff your ears with wax and grasp for control. Or appease your vanity to showcase your intellect. I want to be a better listener in an age where waving off inconvenient information is becoming the new norm. There is a difference between adhering to principle and being informed and insisting that your way, your view, is the "correct" one. Sometimes this is a fine line to walk, sometimes that line becomes a chasm. A Riddle, Wrapped in a Mystery, Inside an Enigma A year after my mother died, my father went on a handful of dates. Once, when I asked him about a particular date, he sighed and quipped: "Well, there was nothing she didn't know." That was the end of their association. Just like there is no need to always be right, there is also no need to understand everything. Sometimes I feel our search for enlightemment has become a competitive sport, not an invitation to wander or wonder. I want to further embrace mystery as an essential part of our human experience.
Stepping Out I went into isolation until Moderna liberated me. I couldn't risk infecting other patients or my amazing medical team, so I sheltered in place. Our dogs were delighted and now have intense separation anxiety, but this isolation took its toll. Many friends kept up, brought food and good cheer. One friend wrote me weekly. But I let go of working on all but essential relationships. Now I have to regroup and rediscover community. True North I need to remember homebase. I belong to motherhood, to making, to painting, to growing, to digging and designing. Whatever I produce doesn't need to be grand, or finished, or ready for public approbation. It just has to be a celebration of beauty in small and grand strokes. It can be as simple as forcing bulbs or writing a letter or setting the table or doodling on an envelope. That said, I dream of writing my way into a book. Keep Moving Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: "Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt have crept in; forget them as soon as you can." I tend to fret over the could ofs and should ofs so this is good advice. The one constant that matters is broadcasting kindness along the way. Onwards 2021 did not turn out to be the year I had anticipated but that's another mystery, another lesson and another invitation forward. Have a lovely end to this year and may you step into more light and love. Here's to 2022.