I celebrated the end of the year as I have for the past three years, with good friends by a frozen lake, around a bonfire.
There was good food and wine and good conversation and expressions of gratitude from everyone. Surely everyone had some sadness touch them, some struggle, some realization of things lost, yet the overwhelming feeling, once again, was of how very lucky we all were to be gathered together for another year.
Once again, we said goodbye to the old year and tossed into the flames symbols of the things we did not want to carry with us into the new year. Then, once again, a balloon filled with air warmed by a single candle rose over the frozen lake taking our wishes for the coming year aloft.
I had brought a bouquet of sorts. Each “blossom” was a page from a calendar, one for each month of the coming year. I rolled each month into a funnel, arranged them all in a basket, then threw the whole basket on the fire. I meant to use last year’s calendar, but accidentally started ripping pages from 2012, so my symbolic bouquet was more accurate than I intended. I set fire to the erroneous belief that there was unlimited time ahead in which I can do all the things I want to do— good things, hard things, important things— all the things that can only be done and will only happen today.
It burned in a moment. That is what it does, this time we have, it burns in a moment.
Then we went to the lake and watched the balloon, filled with candlelight, float over the ice. (I won’t tell you what I wished for. That is a secret.)
With the New Year looming near, I am thinking of my bouquet of months that burned in a moment. I’m thinking of the many wonderful moments this past year that I wish I could relive. But I’m also thinking of the moments I burned in foolishness. I think of the time I spent being aggravated or aggrieved, the time I spent worrying and fretting and being unhappy about things I had no control over, when all the while, I had control which I refused to exercise. At any moment, I could decide how to react.
It is almost never automatic. My automatic reaction is irritated, outraged, defensive, combative, or full of self-pity. But all the while I have this amazing power to say, “no.”
I do not have to react to hostile language with hostility. I don’t have to answer at all. No.
I do not have to feel responsible or embarrassed if someone feels I should be anything other than what I am. No.
I don’t have to accept common knowledge, common practice, or even common sense if it does not allow me to be the best person I can be. No.
In this precious basket of months, I can burn through my days in annoyance and impatience, or I can choose to say, “no.”
My basket was in ashes. All the imaginary future months were gone and I was left with only that moment. In that moment, I took Daniel’s hand and we went inside. The house was warm and filled with good cheer and the smell of good food. Daniel’s hand felt solid and real.
This is my wish for the New Year: I wish for a year of real todays instead of imaginary tomorrows, a year full of days that are solid and real.
Happy New Year.
Till next time,