Thursday, January 1, 2015

Just Another Year, If You Please

2015 is here. All new years are blank slates, which is what makes them so exciting for the young, and so terrifying for the old. Oh, God, what will happen? trills the twenty-year-old, for whom nothing much has happened: all is potential, glorious potential, and thrilling for it. Oh, God, what will happen? frets the fifty-year-old, who knows that for every unexpected joy there is unexpected heartache, and while on paper the two ought to balance out, they never really do.

My hopes are meekly uttered: "More of the same, please." I wish for ordinary days, ordinary nights. No telephone calls at three o'clock in the morning. It sounds sad, at least to the twenty-year-old, but in fact it is closer to sad's opposite.

You see, I've reached the age where how it is is how I want it to be. The actual is satisfying - if not fully so, then certainly close enough. The rhythm of my days matches the rhythm of my heart and equally the rhythm of those old strivings.

I don't need to wish for a life, because I have already made one, however imperfect it may be.

Contentment does not signify the death of hopes and dreams. It is instead a time when those hopes and dreams (realized and unrealized) have been folded into the person you've become and can't help but inform the ordinary days that you dare to covet, but only in a whisper and with the hard-won knowledge that this, too, or perhaps this especially, can be snatched away in one indifferent moment.

As Marianne Moore, in her poem What Are Years?, writes:

So he who strongly feels,
behaves. The very bird,
grown taller as he sings, steels
his form straight up. Though he is captive,
his mighty singing
says, satisfaction is a lowly
thing, how pure a thing is joy.
This is mortality,
this is eternity.

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