Another year prepares to disappear down the memory hole, chucked out like so much rubbish. It’s been a year filled with unfilled plans that are embarrassing now – embarrassing because, well, they go unfilled.
We can, of course, hope for something better in 2013. There are no Mayan expiration dates, no elections (national U.S. elections at any rate – but that’s a rant for another time). A couple new comets appear on the horizon, maybe a betrayer moon – I don’t really remember.
Looking forward anxiously never accomplishes anything anyway. It’s almost never the things you worry about that get you in the end.
Yes, bad times come, bad things happen; and yes, some of them are predictable. But very few can be avoided or even really mitigated, and none can be helped by worrying about them.
And your own personal disasters – where your small world ends or feels like ending – are every bit as real and every bit as important as the macro, so-called significant events. They’re the ones you have to live through, after all.
So … there is nothing worth fearing in the coming year. And the time will pass whether I accomplish anything or not. I can grouse about my real or imagined failings, but they don’t really matter either.
The only thing disturbing me during this festive season – because I was born between Christmas and New Years, I get an added layer of self-centered introspection – is this: there is a nagging feeling, somewhere, somehow, that there has to be a better way to live. A life where I finish what I start. A life not measured in potentials, but in actual things. A life where the things I love come into being, and it doesn’t seem like everything is tiring and stale.
[Camus was wrong – Sisyphus isn't the myth of our time. His mind, at least, was clear on what was happening. We are more akin to Narcissus – still pushing the stone up the hill, but all the while proud of our accomplishment. And prouder still of our personal growth as we trudge downhill to start all over again.]
I want to clarify: I am not depressed. That came earlier this year – as you might have noticed, it was a theme in the lead-up to Christmas. I’m not even overly frustrated. I’m just observing.
Every year, I make the same semi-articulated resolution. This will be the year I solve the riddle.
Like Rainman continually rehearsing “Who’s on First”. I’m trying to solve a riddle that isn’t really a riddle. But I keep having this conviction that there is, in fact, a unified field. There is, in fact, a new dogma, a breakthrough doctrine … that will make it work. This will be the year I finally grasp what it is that hides behind Bach – like a living thing I can only glimpse if I don’t look directly at it. It isn’t a matter of sound; there is a meaning; there is something else happening. This will be the year I figure out what’s going on in my head. This will be the year I finally understand the patterns in numbers and language that keep me awake in the middle of random nights. This will be the year potentials are fulfilled.
All of that is just a nagging, persistent feeling – and it gets reiterated annually. All my goals merge into one. And I wish, sometimes I could report I was making progress. But it is more of an all or nothing proposition – it’s not something I can think my way through in discreet increments. The answer, if there is an answer, will emerge fully formed. The vocabulary to express it will just be there. I imagine it like Scout imagined meeting Boo Radley on the street one day.
I see no reason to break with tradition. Just because I didn’t manage it last year … or the year before … or the year before that, doesn’t mean I won’t resolve to do so once again. (Do you get points for persistence?)
So this is the year I will find the grail.