Bed head and morning breath can wait. Pillows and sheets can be tucked in later.
Is it Tuesday? Friday? Saturday afternoon? Are there chores to do and errands to run? People to meet and work to be done? What’s the weather like and will I need a coat or umbrella or scarf or hat?
No matter. It’s no matter at all.
Instead, I think about something to create today. A story, a sentence, a song. Things that go in frying pans and stock pots and cookie jars and cake stands. The word ‘limit’ hasn’t kicked in yet.
Instead, I think about all the wonderful things that might happen tomorrow, or 8 weeks from now, or when I’m 54. The word ‘cynicism’ hasn’t kicked in yet.
Instead, I think about how I can give today more than I take. I think about yesterday’s failures and last night’s regrets and try to forget. I think about hands to hold and words to whisper and shoulders to hug.
Push off the covers. Rub sleepy eyes. Stretch towards the sun. No more thinking, it’s time to put on my cape and go.
The liquid gold oozing out of a perfectly poached egg,
A winding path of frothed milk cutting through an espresso landscape,
Pomegranate jewels and chopped pistachios over vanilla yoghurt,
A mixed berry smoothie on a hot summer day,
Fresh broccoli (or a just-cut lime wedge) (or pesto, you can never forget pesto),
Caramel, caramel, caramel.
Television is founded on the principle that people don’t change, but we know in our real lives that this isn’t true.
Granted, change in real life is glacial, and you probably stay roughly the same core person you are from about 10 on. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t open up to people you formerly hated or come to find old friends tiresome or anything like that. You might stay the same, mostly, but you shift yourself in different directions for the people you most care about. That can feel like dishonesty. It can also feel like the nicest thing in the world to do for someone.
Finally someone understands my tendency to cry while watching street buskers perform or getting a really good gift.
At this point, it seems almost cliche to make a Year in Review post on the last day of the year. But New Years’ Eve tends to make me sentimental, and 2011 has been a year certainly worth reviewing.
I feel like I’m at the end of one of those grand rapturous movies that wrenches your heart and lifts your soul at the same time. There have been heroes and villains, the memorable quote here and there, and its fair share of startlingly difficult moments (or what screenwriters call “plot twists”, or more specifically, “obstacles the protagonist has to go through to achieve his dramatic need”). These moments have shifted the paradigm, they’ve said “There’s no turning back now.” And so I have moved forward, grudging and unsure, only to find myself here at the end of the triumphant third act, slightly bruised but completely and utterly alive.
So while there will be reminiscing here, this post will not focus on the “Best Of”s (because the low points cannot be discounted), but instead my 2011 will be told in a series of borrowed lines, unaccompanied by explanations because I hope the words will tell their own stories:
2011 in Summary, as borrowed from… Books
You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.”
- Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
“I wasn’t actually in love, but I felt a sort of tender curiousity.”
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
“A cold voice answered: ‘Come not between the Nazgûl and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shriveled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye.’
A sword rang as it was drawn. ‘Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may.’
‘Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!’
Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel.
‘But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you if you touch him.’”
- J.R.R. Tolkein, The Return of the King (The Battle of the Pelennor Fields)
She is clothed with strength and dignity; And she laughs without fear of the future.
- Proverbs 31:25
2011 in Summary, as borrowed from… Poems
“You will put the wind in winsome, lose some. You will put the star in starting over, and over. And no matter how many land mines erupt in a minute, be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life. I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily, but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it.
Sarah Kay, If I Should Have a Daughter
“We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time.”
T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets
2011 in Summary, as borrowed from… Movie Scenes
I believe that love that is true and real creates a respite from death. All cowardice comes from not loving or not loving well, which is the same thing and when the man that is brave and true looks death squarely in the face, like some rhino hunters I know, or Belmonte who is truly brave, it is because they love with sufficient passion to push death out of their minds, until it returns, as it does, to all men.
She used to look at me… this way, like really look… and I just knew I was there… that I existed.
- Super 8
2011 in Summary, as borrowed from… Song Lyrics
There will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.
- Mumford and Sons, After the Storm
I see the scars of searches everywhere I go
From hearts to wars to literature to radio
There’s a question like a shame no one will show
“What do I live for?”
- Brooke Fraser, Hosea’s Wife
2011 in Summary, as borrowed from… Other People
“A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for.”
- William Shedd
“It’s good to have something that is undiscoverable, which frankly, I think every human being has.”
- Meryl Streep
“It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. It’s not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound re-invention.”
There’s thousands of songs about the moment of revelation. About the instance when perspective shifts, when the hidden becomes unveiled, when the darkness turns into light: Suddenly I see, this is what I wanna be…; And at last I see the light, and it’s like the fog has lifted…; I can see clearly now, the rain is gone… It all seems to be connected by this huge universal search where everyone, in their own individual and every day stories, is waiting for the fog to lift and the rain to go.
Before I wax too much poetic, I only say that because I spent a lot of this year in the fog. I wanted to find the light, but at the same time, I was still hiding under the covers. Most times, it’s easier to just stay hidden - to poke your eye out from underneath every now and then to squint at the light, then go back under until you think you’re ready to be awakened. But sometimes the world doesn’t wait for you to feel ready - it rips your safety blanket right off in one swift move.
Needless to say, in the past few weeks, things have happened that feel very much like my covers have been ripped away and the curtains have been pulled open for the light to come in. It’s like the feeling of being woken up by your parents on a Saturday morning when you want to sleep in. The first few seconds are confrontational and unbearable and you try to shut your eyes as tight as possible and hope you somehow find your way back to sleep.
But the sunlight streaming in niggles at you. The promise of the day beckons you and says, “Wake up now.”
And when you do… It’s an amazing day to be had, with not another second to be wasted.
I have been awakened. The fog has been lifted.
I’ve been getting a lot of “Are you okay?” questions the last few weeks. My answer has mostly been “Not really, but I’ll deal,” so it was great to finally say this and mean with all my heart: Yes. I am okay.
More than okay. I said that I felt light. Featherlight. I couldn’t think of any other term to describe it. I’ve felt like dancing for no reason for the last few days, and it’s a pretty amazing feeling. There are people that have let me down over the course of it all, and while part of me wants to blame and gripe and criticize, for the most part, all I want for them is to feel like dancing too.
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright, bright, sunshiney day…
I want to take them dancing in the light with all our eyes wide open.