Sunday, January 1, 2017

To Live in This World

I'm not someone who pays a lot of attention to holidays. I don't buy Christmas gifts nor do I indulge in the awkwardness of Valentines Day, a date designed to  make single people feel awful and for couples to pretend romance should be a priority just one day of the year. I think most holidays started out honorably but they've been hijacked by greedy corporations and marketing gurus.

I was in bed before midnight on New Year's Eve but I'd already celebrated Winter Solstice because for me, it the single most important benchmark on the calendar. December 21 marks the beginning of a new beginning, of more light, and of a promise of spring. For many of us the new year is a time we reflect on the past twelve months. What did we accomplish? How well did we achieve our goals? We look back to celebrate joys and to grieve our losses or missteps. Ideally we learn from our mistakes and resolve to transform blunders into blessings. We say goodbye but mostly, we say Hello.

2016 was a mixed bag for me. Personally, there was a lot to celebrate. I signed with an agent who negotiated a two-book publishing contract with an amazing editor at Kensington. My essay "Body Language: The Naked Truth" was selected for inclusion in a well-time anthology titled Equality: What Do You Think About When You Think of Equality? (Releases Jan 15th). I enjoyed a visit from my lovely daughter and beautiful, feisty granddaughter who live thousands of miles away. I bought a sweet little 1957 vintage camper and transformed it into a writing studio where I revised the first book and began the second one. And I got to spend another year living the dream life in a cottage overlooking the sea with my beloved.

But it was also a very difficult year on an existential level. I saw people at their very worst, spewing hatred, bigotry and mean-spirited insults at their fellow human beings. I watched as a man who stands for everything I was raised to reject was lifted into a position of power. I wept for those who will be marginalized by a nation divided, the same people I was taught from a very young age to fiercely love and protect. I felt afraid for a future where billionaires and corporations are in charge of the people and things meant to serve us, but will mostly serve the rich. And I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't devastated. I was.

If there's one thing I've learned from reflecting on the past it's that we humans are resilient. When the world is ugly we find ways to create beauty and hope. We lift each other up. We advocate for the poor, the vulnerable, the sick, and the weak. We fight for the environment, this beautiful planet and all her creatures--starting with our individual communities. We celebrate ourselves, our individuality and all the goodness each one of us is capable of contributing to the world. This is not the time to crawl into a hole and hope for the best. The new year is an opportunity to shed the cocoon and emerge as a butterfly with fresh wings, ready to ascend. I hope to meet you at the skyline.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this poem from Mary Oliver.

In Blackwater Woods

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars
of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,
the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go
 I welcome your comments but please, no political vitriol. What are your Goodbyes? Your Hellos?