The dead of winter, the turning of the year. Time to reflect, remember and then look forward.
2016 was a year of great losses of people and talents (one of my favorites, Alan Rickman), upsets for progressive thinkers in various parts of the world, and moments of great despair for those of us who believe in an America that moves forward into a future of greater equality, justice and compassion for our fellow citizens and caring for this earth we share.
But it does not do to wallow in a quagmire of negativity, or a “slough of despond” that could sink our spirits. Better to look back and remember all the moments of beauty, of friendship, of joys, of kindnesses. So, Pilgrim, take stock.
My list includes travels to places I have never seen before and places where I am always welcomed back. Hidden gardens, like the one pictured above, and majestic mountain peaks in the Cascades or rugged hills in the Highlands of Scotland. Great Lakes (like Superior), river gorges like the Columbia Gorge, beloved rivers like the Mississippi, waterfalls and rain puddles.
My joys included watching my favorite fourteen month old little boy progress to fifteen months old and his walk change from a side-to-side penguin style waddle, to a more forward striding gait, to a dead run. My favorite six-year-old girl beaming with pride when she breaks her first board in Karate school, or when she finds the courage to go down that big sledding hill solo and discovers the great fun of flying over the snow.
The constant joy of losing myself in a good book, or working out the problem so that the sentence, the paragraph, I write is truer and stronger. Let me mention the two good books I’ve read in the last week, to see 2016 out in style. The first is Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, which is an excellent read that I would recommend to any teen or adult reader. The second is The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, which I finally found time to read. Both are most entertaining and fun to read. I particularly enjoy reading as a writer with an eye to the craft, because both these writers command their craft so well.
I remind myself to always notice the little bits of beauty and comfort that come my way. Snowflakes that float and dance on a lazy drop to earth. Moments that surprise a good, strong and prolonged laugh from me. Slow awakenings in a nest of warm blankets, smelling coffee already brewing. Birdsong.
So, Pilgrim, turn to 2017 with one simple resolve: to find all the beauty, joy, peace and kindness that the world around you can offer. And to pay it forward.
Wishing you all new beginnings. New hope. New strength. New chances to add kindness to the world. Happy New Year to all.