The Ending of Another Year


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When I was younger, New Year’s Eve meant the welcoming of a newer, brighter, more hopeful next step. We were all moving forward into a brighter day, where all of the errors of the past could be erased and the dawning of a new spring was just ahead of us.

I remember one New Year’s Eve celebration with friends, where one of us jumped up on a table at midnight, glass of wine in hand, and shouted, “This is the year when I get MARRIED!!!” The whole bar cheered, and we all laughed and danced and jumped up and down.

It feels like yesterday.

That friend is now a grandmother of two, with another on the way. She’s still married to that fabulous guy she was dancing with on that long ago eve.

And I feel as if no time at all has passed. And I feel like that night was a thousand years ago.

Now we stand on the brink of another New Year.

Now I am more practical, more measured, more prosaic as I mark the unstoppable march of time.

Goodbye, 2017. You were a year. You had your wonderful glories, like the birth of our sweet little Johnny. And the celebration of our sons falling in love. And the wonderful summer weather.

But you were a regular year, so you had your awful moments, too. Like the loss of a young friend by his own hand. And the death of our sweet old Tucker.

You were a year of fear for a lot of us, as we saw our country fall under the control of a man who most of us think is a dangerous despot. We found ourselves revisiting our fears of nuclear war. And discovering new fears of a vulnerable power grid and cyber war.

You were a year of shock. But you were also the year of our renewed strength, as so many of us marched to voice our outrage. I ushered you in with millions of other resistors around the country, and I will usher you out with my resolve unchanged.

2017, you were a year.

I am happy enough to bid you goodbye, although a part of me thinks, “one less year of life for me” as I wave you out the door.

2018, let’s welcome you in. May your storms be few, your wars be limited, and your memories be sweet.

Another trip around the sun for all of us. Next year, I’m sure, will be another year on planet earth.

 

Resolving to find my “glittering eyes”.


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I guess I am basically a simple person, looking for simple answers.  I like ideas that can be wrapped up as neatly as a little burrito and held in my hand.

I also like ideas that are expressed both clearly and beautifully.

So as I sit here on this frigid last morning of the year, I have been searching for a quote that can guide me through 2015.  I know better than to make resolutions at my age.  There is no chance that I’m suddenly going to get in shape or embrace an exercise plan.  I’m pretty sure that I won’t actually learn to knit or teach myself Italian, although I’d love to do both.  I already work hard at being a kinder, more patient, more accepting person, so there’s no need for a resolution about it.

Instead, I have decided to look for the perfect quote. Something that I can print out and hang up on my classroom wall. Something I can keep in my wallet and pull out when I’m feeling overwhelmed or frustrated or just plain crabby.

I started with political quotes, but I already strongly agree with all the best ones.  Like this one, from John Adams:

“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

Pretty cool to find that John Adams said exactly what I’ve been saying!  I felt smart, but didn’t think that was a quote to live by, you know?

Then I thought maybe I could find a quote from song lyrics.  Maybe Bruce Springsteen could help?  Alas, in the end I decided that its a little bit too late to “get out while we’re young”.   I kept looking.

And I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I found the perfect quote from one of my favorite authors.  Roald Dahl, author of so many magical, whimsical, powerful children’s books, said this:

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Isn’t that wonderful?

So this is what I will try to do this year.  I will try very hard to watch the whole world around me with glittering eyes. I will try to look past the ugliness and the violence. I will try not to focus on the drudgery or the sameness or the repetition that is such a big part of everyday life.   I will keep my eyes on the children in my care, those children who are so very good at seeing magic, and who all have those glittering eyes.  I will look for the small sparks that inhabit the icy winter world, and those that come with the emerging spring.  I’ll try to appreciate the heat of summer and the crispness of the fall.

Most of all, I will try hard throughout 2015 to find the secrets and the magic in the people around me, even the grownup people.  I will try to keep myself open to them, and see that they all hold great beauty inside them.

Happy New Year, my dear friends!  May you keep your belief in magic, and may you find it in the most unlikely places!