I have this mental picture of a concert pianist about to set hands to keys… pin-drop quiet in the hall… adjusting the seat… lightly shaking the arms… digits hovered over the blacks and whites… the momentary pause to focus before the first note… And then flows the masterpiece!
Approaching my writing keyboard is nothing like that, of course. False starts, discordant notes and incomplete thoughts are what the writing process is composed of.
At a time when the calendar bellows at us that it’s time for a fresh start, many of us are reviewing the raw material of our past year, which perhaps is also characterized by false starts and discordant notes, and attempting to summon meaning and renewed purpose from it all.
For me, a repeating motif of this past year has been the occasions for tears. But wait — before you write me off as a downer, allow me to remind that tears flow in both joys and sorrows. Indeed, both are often mixed in the same tears.
Many of you know i am still picking up pieces from health challenges of the past few years. Such challenges inevitably involve loss — in particular, the loss of how you conceived of the rest of your life playing out, as well as loss of capability and of financial stability.
This past year also included unexpected loss in the arena of relationships; those pangs are the most acutely felt, and take the longest to heal — at least partly because of the way they tend to give self-doubt a megaphone.
Even in times of quiet composure and tranquil circumstances, though, i have always felt a certain wistful ache at the mere passage of time. It’s hard to explain what i mean. It crystallizes most in marking the birthdays of a child. We are celebrating the child and her wide open future — while at the same time, it means we are letting go gradually of her childhood itself. There is both joy and sorrow in that.
We both celebrate and say goodbye when we observe the new year too. This year it’s more clear to me than ever how much i am having to say goodbye to. I’m out in new waters, the old shoreline barely visible anymore.
And who knows yet what all i am gaining? I decided just this morning that maybe it’s best not to try to tally up — joys on one side, sorrows on another — on some imaginary scale we construct in order to close out the old year.
Instead — like the concert pianist i started this with — i’ll let commingled joy-tears and parting-tears sprinkle the keys while i embrace the music.