Sitting on a green bench while the sun sets over Spreckels Lake. A man walks by and wishes me a happy new year. Another lies on the grass curled up with his dog. The sun sets behind the cypress trees while the evening shadows fall on the rippling waters of the lake. It is the time of seasonal death and renewal, the chance to align oneself with nature’s unvarying pattern, an opportunity to join Janus and look back and ahead at the same time.
The day began dropping off the grandkids and daughter at Oakland Airport—at 6:00 am. A morning of reclaiming the house and then off for a long walk in the park. On this, the last day of the year, I am accompanied by the full community of selves that live together in this body-mind— my doubts and confidences, my shortcomings and successes, my old hurts and wounds and disappointments alongside my power to heal, my unshakeable faith, my muscular hope. All huddled together in this fragile, feeble, foolhardy, flowering, forgiving, fun-loving human frame.
At the turn of the year, it’s a time for the house-straightening, desk-cleaning, bill-paying, project-planning, calendar-filling outside work and the inside work of carrying up my doubts, disappointments and demons from the basement, sitting them down and giving them a good talking to. As well as a good listen. What do they want from me? What can I learn from them? And then leave room for my faithful friends to say their piece, the ones that have stayed true to the pattern and keep weaving the next image into the design that is uniquely my life.
The evening plans will be different this year, as the relentless pandemic cancelled the ritual Paula Poundstone New Year’s shows, as well as the usual party with the ringing of Tibetan bells at midnight. Instead, a bean soup, bread and salad dinner, a visit with Bach on the piano after 11 days absence, the next episode in our current TV series.
In six minutes, it will be New Year’s pandemonium in Denver and Phoenix and by the time it rolls to San Francisco, I believe I will be greeting it in my sleep. Just this final post— the 365th with a one-per-day average!— to acknowledge the perpetual renewal of hope against all odds, the certainty of more grief and bewilderment and mayhem up ahead, but also the happiness we ourselves can create through the simple decision to live wholly and attentively, to accept and embrace and enact the design that accompanied us into this life. On we go, however we can, staggering forth rejoicing.