Thursday, January 1, 2009
WELCOME TO 2009!
Well, here we are—a new day and a new year. And I’m up, while not quite at the crack of dawn, as early as I could manage given the limitations of my aging carcass and last night’s excesses. But also up thankfully, for being able to get up is always better than not. Today we begin the round of the year anew. A familiar path. A journey into the unknown. The tick and tock of time. The earth spins on its tilted axis, whirls along in planetary ellipse around the sun, while the whole solar system glides silently through the vast cold darkness of deep space. Three-hundred and sixty-five days and nights lie ahead, yet to be born. Three-hundred and sixty-five sunrises and sunsets. Twelve months and four seasons. Two each of equinoxes and solstices. Winter snows, spring’s returning birds and ephemeral wildflowers, summer’s green mantle and baking heat, autumn’s kaleidoscopic colored leaves. During the year ahead, just as during the one now past, an incalculable number of raindrops will fall upon the earth, percolate through the soil, eventually find their way into a tiny rill, thence a brook, later a creek, flow onward into a river, and ever enticed downhill by gravity, into the sea. Upon reaching the sea, sun and wind and current will stir this water. Tides will pull. Evaporation will occur. The water will return to the sky in the form of fog and mist and clouds. Atmospheric pressures will wax and wane, pulling the moisture-laden air this way and that, mixing and colliding, hot with cold, damp with dry, funneled and swirled by earthspin and geography. Clouds will turn into storms. Rain will fall. Those uncountable drops of water recommencing their long, roundabout journey again. The lovely little river that passes my cottage owes its life to this cycle. This is all part of nature’s ancient course, the annual circular trail which we mark off and designate in their individuality as years. The circle within the circle within the circle, ad infinitum. From a scientific perspective it would make logical sense to begin tracking years at the winter solstice. On earth, light and life are practically synonymous. That’s unquestionably where the new annual journey begins—with the increasing light. Where better to begin a year than at the moment of its annual renewal? Unfortunately, we’re a few days late, stuck with a nominal beginning on a calendar created by politics and ego rather than astronomy and logic. However, right starting point or wrong, the attitude remains the same—thoughts and emotions mixed, caught between those of the future and past, the known and the unknown. The preceding twelve months has turned into history. All the joy and sorrow, good times and bad, become a part of our past, relegated to the shaky closet of memory. Looking warily in the opposite direction, we know—thanks to our calendars—the name of the year ahead. We can track its pathway. Yet even the snazziest calendar makes a poor prophet. What will 2009 bring? Laughter? Tears? Delight? Anger? Success? Failure? Enlightenment? Confusion? Exhilaration? Love? Sickness? Despair? Compassion? Death? That’s what a year’s worth of life is, a continual series of experiences and emotions, some good, some bad. “Highlights and lowlights,” a friend likes to say. All contained within a matrix of the commonplace and routine, the everyday, the boring and mundane. But we’re all here…at the start of a new day and a new year. That’s something! I say let the adventure begin! Happy 2009!