dispatch from 02139 (in which the calendar page flips anew, and we all stare at the great white slate…)
another friday, another kitchen table. this one back in the land of cobblestone sidewalks and echoes of history. ones that pre-date the great chicago fire.
i awoke — late — to my definition of a heaven-plucked day: the sky is gauzy gray, as if soot-soaked cotton balls are plugging holes between the clouds. the little apartment is bathed in quiet. everyone’s gone away. just me and the tip-tap-tap of keyboard. a lulling sort of sound, and one that today is lulling me.
by accident of birth, i came onto the planet on the third day of a new year, and so all my life — and especially of late — i dwell in my own personal calendar of time delay. my january second comes on the fourth. today’s the day i call the Big After, when no one i love is trying to make a fuss, when i don’t hold my breath all day, hoping to extract the essence of a divinely choreographed day of grace. when i awake to laundry loads, and empty cupboard shelves. when to-do’s threaten to gallop cross my chest, pummel me in dust.
but the beauty of this time delay, this stalled beginning, is that i’ve extra hours to contemplate the fresh start. to consider hard and deep just how i might aim to live this year.
i am never short on aims. (from this point on, thanks to our flaky, flimsy internet connection, an hour of writing went down the tube….and in my mad-scrambled brain, i can barely cobble the words back together again. why does that happen when you actually felt sated by the words that had first fallen on the page? and why can’t you pluck those words back from the ether that has zapped them away? from here on in, a feeble attempt at re-cobbling. given the subject at hand, i ought to consider this a fresh start but, egad, that isn’t working….)
i am fueled by aims — a walking, talking i’ll-do-better machine.
and on this gray morning, this morning laced in shadow, my humble vows begin with these: to not dwell so often in clipped-time staccato, weekday after weekday, as i try to foist my little fellow from bed sheet to school bus, with mandatory pit stop at the breakfast trough. to not so often feel quite so shy, especially in a crowd, when all i really want to do is pull one great soul off to a corner for a heartfelt and satisfying tete-a-tete. to not whittle away so many hours, breath held hard and lost in worry that, at any given moment, geez, the plane could go down, the car might slide into a ditch, and the ones i love won’t shuffle back.
deep in the truth of all of us lies the rough draft that demands edit after edit.
and so we are blessed, those of us who keep time (and last i checked, that was most of us), who trace the day, the week, the year in spiral.
it is, at heart, a geometry of promise, hope and, most of all, ascension. it offers us the chance, over and over, to come back to that sacred moment when we stand at the crest of the hill, cast arms wide, salute the heavens, shake off dirt and dust, re-map our route, and see if this time round we might inch higher toward the summit.
i don’t know a world religion that doesn’t devote a chapter, at least, to absolution, cleansing, rinsing. it is as if we are hard-wired for holy resurrection. to rise from our brokenness. to seek forgiveness for our sins and shortcomings. to come back to the fresh start, the blank slate, to try and try again. to believe in the almighty “take two.”
and so it is this morning that i come on bended knee. i stand here praying, hoping, promising that my next go-around on this old globe might be one that draws me closer to the unfettered essence i was meant to be. the one not weighted down with doubt and double-guessing. the one that drinks in all the holy waters all around me.
it is, i hope and pray and believe, by little and by little — by little dose of courage, by little kindness, by little gentleness — that we inhale the promise: to shake off our wobbles, stand tall, and launch the climb again.
at the start of this new year, it’s what i whisper. and what sets me on my way….
how do you practice the art of starting fresh?
dear chair people, i lost an entire post here, hit publish, and POOF!, the whole thing vanished, and i don’t know where it’s gone. photo up above is from my not-so-secret garden back in 60091, where the snows fell thick and soft last week, and out my kitchen window, i beheld the wonder of the freshest start.
How do I start over? fresh after a shower, with a fresh pad of paper and a special pen (the ones I hide) and I make a list. Nothing may happen after that of any great import….but I know what needs to be done…:)
Every year around here sounds like cranking up an old car (or perhaps your internet service), in fits and starts. It goes like this: Christmas on Tuesday, New Year’s the next Tuesday, Firstborn the next Tuesday (along with his Granny), Finallyborn the next Tuesday (with Grandad on his heels, the next day). From Thanksgiving till a week past Epiphany, the birthdays come two or three per week (I guess in spring a young man’s fancy DOES turn to thoughts of love), with two, now three, anniversaries. Every time I’m about to start something, it’s interrupted by a celebration or another run to the post office to get a card off before it’s belated. All with great joy, of course, although one year I was so beat, my son was compelled to ask “Mommy, why does my birthday cake look like that?” That’s when we switched to birthday brownies and pies. By mid-January I’ve completely forgotten what month it is, and am ready to start my Christmas vacation, and diet, after all that cake.
My “fresh start” seems to coincide with Lent, so I’m in keeping with someone’s calendar, at any rate. Sometime during Lent we finally see the fruits of the crocus’ winter toil, signs of another fresh start. For now, I’m heading into hibernation, right after I shop for a batch of birthday brownies, and send flowers to Granny (a card won’t make it in time) and pick up Firstborn’s present (or did I give it to him for Christmas?) and make sure I use wrapping without Santas on it. Fresh start? How ’bout a firm finale?
dear beautiful chairs above, melissa and notherbarb, ah bless you for coming to the table with your wisdoms and your offerings, after i’d left worrying about all the coffee spills and scattered sugar at the table. how lovely to find you wise and wonderful, where i’d felt so at a loss.
my fresh start post internet blow-up was to take a walk round cambridge with a friend, settle in for stacked-high veggie samwich at my favorite cozy cafe and swap tales of bumps and bruises. maybe the lesson learned is that words should only flow in ink, and onto paper. and all this ether-netting is merely so much faux facade.
My favorite Ziggy cartoon shows Ziggy enjoying his newspaper (Tribune?) in his armchair, while out at the curb sits a computer with a sign: “For Sale. Will trade for a dozen pencils and a nice legal pad.” Wise fellow.
Happy birthday, BAM! Hoping that the upcoming year is full of wonder and joy for you!
Fresh starts do happen this time of the year. Personally, I like to see every day as a fresh start, the opportunity to be better than I was the day before, the time to do something – anything – with a bit more kindness and joy than I used the day before. I think I look at life that way because many days I fall short of my goals, and it’s good to know that tomorrow I can start over again.
So, for losing the first draft, I have to say the second is pretty spectacular. Here are my favorite lines: “a walking, talking, I’ll-do-better machine”; in “all of us lies the rough draft that demands edit after edit” (!!!); and “a geometry of promise.” Praise heaven for giving us newness of life, and Gregory for giving us calendars. I hope your whole year is marked by joyful embracing of the newness in each day, the renewal of your life in each moment–and the resurrection of beautiful words even after they disappeared the first time!
jcv, bless your healing heart. your words finally applied the soothe that i needed. thank you thank you. i was all rankled all weekend. just didn’t have that fresh-start feeling. felt more like topsy turvy girl. there is nothing like writing for a writer, and having the words be met whole. scrumptious hug to you. and thank you thank you….best birthday present a girl could get. xoxoxo