365 /// Being and Becoming

It’s the last day of the year. The last day we’ll write 2022 and mean it. The passing of time is starting to get to me. I think of all the young people happy to move on to the next year and I find I no longer understand them. I’m trying to remember if I was that way then, too. I’m sure I was. I was an angry and nihilistic one, ready to have life over with.

Oh, how I’ve changed. I’m kind now—or try my best to be. I’m humanistic, hopeful, bordering dangerously on spiritual, and ready even to accept meaning.

Now I want to hold tight to every year and I loathe for each to pass. I cling now, to time, or I want to, but you can’t really. It slips as easily whether you reach out or let it go. There’s nothing to hold to, nowhere for you to find footing. All you can choose is whether to look while your life passes or avert your eyes.

I’m also sad to see the year pass simply because 2022 was a damn good year. I’m leaving it feeling empowered, blessed, and loved. I did things. Life got a bit better, a bit deeper, a bit wider. I want to believe 2023 will be more of the same, but the odds are never in anyone’s favor that the good times will go on. Pain is always on the way.

So, I wanted to write here, before the calendar changes over, and say that right now, I am happy. I leave this as proof that happiness really can happen to a person, for a time, and say with some authority that it’s all worth whatever real joy you get. I hope happiness keeps happening to me and if it ever stops, I hope I will want it to happen again.

As for my hopes for the coming year, I have very few. There are resolutions of course: read a book a month, start working out, journal more, find more writing work, travel, and fix up my old house. I’m not holding too tightly to those goals. I know a lot will change in the next 12 months. I won’t have the same goals, the same resolve. I will succeed and some and fail miserably at others, and that’s already okay by me.

There’s something else, though. Something bigger than a goal I can name or measure. I think I’m growing wiser, or maybe I’m coming to some truth about life that I can live and die with.

I am learning, I think, that there is something in us that amounts to a kind of fate. Not a grand plan, but a being and becoming. We are born who we are and we become the version of that self will be shortly after. We then go on to spend (or waste) a whole lot of time trying to be something else,

But you can never escape yourself. One way or another, you return to who you are. In fact, you will do it again and again and again, sometimes on bad terms, but eventually on good. I think I am returning to myself again; this time, I am meeting myself with not just forgiveness, but with understanding and curiosity. This time I am trying to help myself be who I have always been. This time, I am truly meeting myself with love.

And so we all do, or will, one day. You get tired; you lose the will to fight yourself anymore; you make peace—if you are lucky.

So much is coming back and all of it is falling into place. I can see all the clues I missed. I can hear all the things I have been trying to say. In 2023, I just want to listen more. My body has been giving mixed signals and my words have long been misinterpreted.

It’s getting easier now to slow down, and ask before acting: What does this mean? It helps to take the time to understand where your feelings and needs come from. Work out what would really feel better than how you have been living and start doing things differently. It helps to look back and admit your own patterns to yourself. Mark the places in life where you always seem to come back to and find a way of letting yourself settle.

This is what I want more of in 2023. I want to be more of who I am. There is nothing to add, no great mystery to solve. We all know, somewhere deep down, who we are. You simply have to be that with all your heart.

366 // A Day of Waiting

New Year’s Eve is a strange day. It’s a day of preparing, of wanting, and of waiting and as that waiting goes on, and the body and mind fill with nervous energy you grow anxious, impatient, and quite feverishly, hopeful. You are simultaneously excited to leave the last 12 months behind and terrified to begin the next.

There are many hours left still before the end will come and the new beginning arrives finally. Here we are keeping our celebrations quiet and, most importantly, safe.

We aren’t marking the day as we usually do: with family or friends, drinking and partying. It’s just my wife and I softly ringing in the new year together and considering how much we’ve been through in these last many months, I couldn’t think of any way or with anyone I’d rather celebrate.

I’m practicing a lot of self-reflection and managing my expectations of what 2021 will bring. I remember New Year’s Eve before the start of 2020 I thought I was about to enter the a time of great joy and productivity. I imagined so many successes and experiences, and within months I the whole world was turned upside down.

I have no such expectations of 2021. I do not even believe it will be a better year than this last. All I hope for is that I will be better at coping with pain, disappointment, change, loss, and anger. I hope I will find ways to make the best of whatever I have and wherever I am. I hope to endure better, and that is all.

365//365

I spent the morning at the motor vehicle office with my wife, trying to complete step two of our name change before the new year is set to begin. We’d hoped for a day like yesterday at the social security office, exciting and easy, but this was entirely the opposite. We both encountered troubling issues and only one of us walked away with the name change applied. My wife will have to go back Friday and hope everything is cleared up by then.

Afterward, we set about the business of marking the last day of the year. Weeks ago we talked about going out tonight but our group of friends are in a delicate state right now and the world hasn’t felt very safe in general these past few days. It’s going to be bitter cold, we’re both over 30 and not as quick to recover as we once were, and to be honest not many events felt worth the expense so we’re staying in.

So instead we bought copious amounts of indulgent and delicious foods. We have a large spread of snacks, andouille sausage, crab legs, corn and potatoes for dinner, a bottle of white wine, some syrupy amaretto to sip, and two perfect little cakes for dessert.

I had thought I would spend the day reflecting on the past year, but I’ve done so much of that in the last 30 days that there is nothing else left to go over. This day feels outside of the calendar entirely now, not a part of 2019 but not yet 2020 either. Today is a day for waiting, a single breath taken before the beginning of a new journey. I’m ready to let go.

I only hope I can make it to midnight to kiss my wife and tell her I love her for the 18th New Year’s Day in a row.