Without fail, every year, as the crowd exalts at the turning of the clock and strangers embrace each other with hugs laced in warm wishes for a great year, and air kisses to seal the fate…er date, I get teary. No matter how clearly I realize that the opening of a fresh calendar does not mean that everything which came before will be erased, nor will the next day be an entirely new scene simply because I got the ‘Zen’ inspired calendar and last years was ‘cute kittens’.
No, I realize that what tears me up is the celebration, the elation we all feel for just a split second. In that split second there is a little hope. Hope that pain which some endured the previous year feels erased for a moment, gone, associated with something different. Hope that something new, like the opening of presents the week prior, appears before us. I realize that the dropping of one number and adding of a new, essentially frees us from association with the previous year’s events “in 2011 ____ happened”. It’s as if, once we no longer date our checks and mail with that number, we don’t need to be attached to that event any longer.
I don’t mind that delusion for a moment. Do you?
The invention of New Year’s Eve is brilliant in my mind. It tells us that our nature, our inherent nature is to pay attention, to shed and start again. If we can really be mindful we might just realize that, outside of this one time a year, the universe is always giving us the opportunity for renewal. Us little humans, more than any other natural being have the ability to shed and rebirth at our discretion. Unlike the rose or the dogwood or even the Groundhog, we don’t actually have to wait for the next season to reveal ourselves. We get to choose that moment. And yet, ironically, we still have to go through the entire, proper cycle of whatever we are meant to go through. We still have to harvest those emotions and deal with them. Better still, we get to choose how to do that too!
On my way to teach a ‘special’ new year’s eve class, when I realized I had spent more time working on my playlist (“Is a ‘wonderful world’ too obvious? “Can’t really put Prince ‘party like its 1999’ can I? “Should I make a playlist of all the songs that I listened too in ’11? No, too pompous”) I had a moment of panic; what the f*&k was I actually going to talk about, and teach? So I looked to the big guy (or girl…does it really matter? Why can’t we just have our own interpretation of that energy source and call it a day? I am pretty sure after all these years; no one is going produce real evidence!) and said “Ok dude, I need your help, I’m going to have to remove myself from the picture, and you’re going to have to step in and use me as your ventriloquist doll”. I am pretty sure he/she/me answered immediately because very shortly after that I looked at the trees and thought of nature.
I pondered how different all the many many billions of species of plants and trees there are in the world. How they all show themselves differently, and protect themselves differently and bear their scars and illnesses differently and how they shed and renew and blossom and die. I thought about how the body of the plant itself was like us, and that the flowers or leaves were like our personalities. Some plants have a need to be big and bold and dramatic, others prefer quantity and produce abundance of flowers, and others still are dainty. It does all of this in accordance with the laws of nature.
I am no botanist, so I don’t know names but I am sure there are people out there who could come up with many educated examples of my explanations.
Then, I thought about how nature never tries to do anything different than what it is supposed to do, and ironically how we spend so much time fighting who we are and what we’re supposed to do. I also thought about how we are the only species on the planet which has separated ourselves from nature, like we are not part of nature at all but are here only to learn about it and then manipulate it. We build structures to protect ourselves from nature, develop sprays to kill it, install manufactured air controllers to fight the season we are living in and yet, we are inherently natural beings, part of the play of the universe.
Ironically, we fight against the laws of nature; we hold on the to the past, we struggle to let go and forgive, we believe old, irrelevant beliefs about life (and ourselves) – essentially we fight the ‘shedding’ and leave little room for renewal and yet we still have this need to renew….so we create our own little ritual called A New Year. This essentially, is like a mental (human being) season and, with each season a plant usually gets bigger, and stronger, if pruned correctly. I often feel like our shedding and getting stronger is more in our lessons, or our learning about ourselves and the world around us. My wise friend, Erin, believes that learning is simply one of the reasons we are here.
So, I rambled on about that for class. However, it has gotten me to thinking about this ever since and will be adding that to some more topics over this next month.
So, perhaps ringing in the New Year doesn’t feel like a big grand chess move of your life – I hope it doesn’t, it shouldn’t really. However, I do hope that you managed to spend a moment reflecting. Reflecting on the goodness of your life, reflecting on the hits and the misses, reflecting on how far you’ve come, how close you almost got and the path that you want to take going forward.
I do hope you managed to let fall those old, emotional, leaves. Perhaps it’s time to blossom.
My New Year’s Eve Playlist (as evidenced below….I went obvious)
Walk With Me ~ Moby
A Change is Gonna Come ~ Sam Cooke
This Little Light of Mine ~ Sam Cooke
Life is Beautiful ~ Keb Mo
Come Together ~ Beatles
I Got Sunshine – Avery Sunshine
The Happy Song – Otis Redding
Man In the Mirror ~ Michael Jackson
(Completely Inspired by Erin Thorkilsen after her amazing blog post
Midnight Special ~ Odetta
Better Be home soon ~ Crowded House
What a Wonderful World ~ Louis Armstrong (Obvious Alert!!!)
To Build a Home ~ Cinematic Orchestra
Gratefulness – Brother David Steindl-Rast