Solstice Fire

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing we made it through the end of the world.

We celebrated the solstice early this year. It was a convenient date for everyone and we avoided the risk of scheduling a party just as the world ended. There would have been a lot of wasted Christmas cookies, so I’m glad we played it safe.

The solstice party was, as always, perfect. We all stood around a fire and sang carols. Then we pitched into the fire all the things we would like to be rid of in the coming year. I have great faith in the solstice fire (even a week before solstice) because it has done such a good job of incinerating other habits I have wanted to lose in the past. I burned up my alter-ego Superwoman the first year and she has made only the occasional reappearance. The next year I burned up all my old life plans and they are gone for good. The third year I burned up expectation and, while this was a little trickier, I have done a much better job of living in this moment rather than in the imaginary months ahead.

This year I pitched in a giant print-out of the word “should” because I found it was doing me little good. I rarely enjoy things I “should” do. Things I “should” do are usually things that I am doing already, but feel I could do better, faster, or more often. I nitpick my life apart with “should” and rob myself daily of small satisfactions.

I use “should” on others to even more disastrous effect. People “should” behave other than the way they do, think things they do not, and know better. None of it accomplishes anything other than to annoy me and divert my attention from where it belongs— in the here and now, enjoying the unending wonders of my life. So I tossed “should” into the fire and it burned up in a second.

The next thing we do each solstice is send up a wish balloon and, with it, our hopes for the coming year. My first wish came true at the first solstice party three years ago and he was standing behind me at this one, so I had very little to wish for other than more of the same. Daniel stuck his hands in my coat pockets and we watched the flaming balloon narrowly miss the giant pine trees then grow smaller and smaller in the night sky. I thought about how good my life is. I was filled with gratitude for all the wonderful things that had already rained down on my life.

And so, as I write this, I don’t yet know if the world has ended but I am betting it goes on for a bit longer, despite our best efforts. For my part, I am far less afraid of flaming meteors than of the countless acts of thoughtlessness I commit every day. I am less afraid of losing my life in an instant than in losing it through years of sleepwalking while miracles surround me. I am less afraid of fire falling from the sky than of my coldness to others in the face of suffering and loneliness.

Maybe it’s bad luck to reveal a wish, but if the world has ended I guess it won’t matter anyway. In this new year, I wished for more love. I sent a tiny flame and a wish for more love straight up into the night sky.

Till next time,

—Carrie

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