“Hope is a thing with wings that perches on the soul. It sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.” E. Dickinson
Here we are at the end of the year. December 31st, 2012. I find myself looking back with confusion and looking forward with fear. Life is ticking away in front of me. Will I ever recapture the days that were good? Will I ever recover from the days that were bad? Will I, for another year, pretend to be confident about the future and blase about the past or will I finally accomplish some kind of inner wisdom that won’t slip away when the world gets dark around me? Can I make myself be what I want to be? Will I finally realize that the person I am is good and be happy with myself? Happy with who I am right now?
I opened a book about scrapbooks this morning. Scrapbooks are homages to time and to what we believe is important about life. One page I saw, most likely made in the 1940’s, was filled with words that surprised me. “Dancing” “Friends” “Trips” “Father” “Memories” and at the bottom of the page “Bride.” Words that to the person who made the book, echoed with happiness and value.
Perhaps I am confused about another year of time because my life’s time line has been so all over the place. I didn’t follow anything that looks like the usual pattern of school, career, marriage, and/or kids. My parents both died when they were young and left us shattered by their insane behavior. I started work way too young. Because of work, school happened for me in fits and starts and my only child is my dog. My friends are all over the world and I’ve never been married.
If I look at my life this way, it is a mess. But if I look at it in another way, it is a miracle.
Someone once told me that you can only measure your progress from the place from which you started. This is the best advice I have ever heard. If I look at my life now from where I began, I have done better than I ever imagined. I have a wonderful relationship with an amazing man. I continue to educate myself a little at a time. I have done many interesting projects that provided me with a fun way to make a living. I have written a book about my life and am in the final stages of finishing it. I have travelled all over the world, and I have a few truly good friends that I deeply love.
I think 2013 is going to be a year of listening to all I have done right in my life, despite whatever order the events happened in. I need to remember that years ago, I felt a despair that had legs, not a mewling self pity, but a true despair based on loss and grief. I have not only educated my intellectual mind since then, but I have educated my heart. I have cared for myself, learned about people, and been very, very brave.
I think on this day of remembering the past and looking forward to a “clean slate” of life, I need to remember to take these tools with me: courage, patience, empathy for others, and a willingness to be a beginner over and over again. These are aspect of me that I am proud of, huge parts of who I am that have taken me years to develop.
I could have been a drug addict, but I am not. I could have killed myself, but I didn’t. I could have thrown away my talents, but I haven’t. I have another year to look forward to in which to practice the habits and skills I enjoy. I have another year of life in which to enjoy all the earth has to offer: dancing, friends, trips, memories. I might even get to be a real bride, not just one on TV.
So, my parents are dead. Some great friends of mine are dead. Can’t do much about that now. There are people still here on earth who have shown me kindness and supported me in ways my parents could not. There are friends I am still so lucky to have.
This year, I am going to work with what I have got, from where I am at, and be grateful for all I have. I am going to believe that life is still beautiful, no matter what horrible cruelty still exists on earth, and that I can still achieve both my latest dream and my fondest wish.
This is my wish for you as well. Happiness: a sense of acceptance about oneself, gratitude for the moment, and optimism about ones life and the world in which we live. No matter where we have started from, we must measure ourselves from that point. There is always room for progress, but look at how far we have come.
It from this place that I wish you, “Happy New Year.”