“Of course you can’t become
If you only say what
You would have done…”
(Len, “Steal My Sunshine”)
(Len, “Steal My Sunshine”)
The turn of the year compels us to look in two directions at once. We encapsulate the closing year as we reflect on the opening one’s possibilities. Our inherent drive to mark time also carries the urge to compare — between today’s thoughts and those at last year’s turn, and to overlay them with a clarity of progress and pattern.
Last year at this time, i considered life’s vagaries here through a musical motif. This time, i offer another wordsmith’s sentiments, using the music of poetry.
I’m moved by how this simple, early 1900s poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox evokes the melancholy behind the mirth:
What can be said in New-Year rhymes,
That’s not been said a thousand times?
The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.
We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.
We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.
We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.
We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that’s the burden of the year.
The poem’s somber nature overtakes the joy — and that may not be where some readers want to land.
I see it as a contemplation whose grave tone dwells on only one aspect of human experience. Other songs and poems bring out the exuberance and optimism of new beginnings. Let us be looking for those as well.
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. Continue reading
Looks like we’ve made it through another year. Launching this blog is my celebration.
Every menu item has at least one post so far, except Viewpoints. I plan to use Viewpoints to comment occasionally on events in the news and culture. If you have a suggestion for a topic for the inaugural post under Viewpoints, feel free to let me know, either in a Comment or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish for everyone a healthy and fulfilling new year.