Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Years Old and New

What can one say about a whole calendar year, about all the water that passed singing or muttering under the bridge and is now somewhere else entirely? Spring arrived right on schedule, and the world was green again; summer was golden, and autumn was fiery red. All three seasons were glorious but brief, as they always are here in the north. Now we stand at the gate of another year, and in the depths of winter.

This year two dearly loved friends journeyed beyond these earthly fields.  They were wise and wild, and their passing leaves an aching void with a cold hollow wind blowing through it, but I am grateful for having known and cherished them and hopeful that, in the words of Rita Mae Brown, "gratitude will finally conquer the loss".

The journey as a freelance photographer, designer and occasional wordsmith continues. It winds gently along through wondrous, unknown and ever changing territory, albeit in an occasionally uncertain (re skills, creativity and age) frame of mind, but this is nothing new. I am learning that uncertain realms are good dwelling places, and there are fine old lessons to be learned journeying in them. Hugging the shores of one's life is just fine, but the Great Mystery makes its home further out. Once in a while we have to paddle our canoes out into deeper waters to meet it.

Faced with an uncertain future (isn't the future always uncertain?), one simply pledges herself to embrace that future and whatever it holds with radical acceptance and a blithe spirit of adventure, then she potters onward. The face in the mirror looks a little more weathered every day, and at times it seems as furrowed as a newly turned field in springtime, but I am rather fond of this elder me. As I grow older, I am becoming quieter and more radical - as the late Florida Scott-Maxwell phrased it so beautifully in her memoir, "fierce with reality". Having been freckled and rather easy going all my life (and about as intimidating as the Easter bunny), I secretly aspire to become a commanding presence in my elder years, someone wise, compelling and a little scary. Being grand would be lovely, but it is not going to happen.

Intentions for 2012 are simple. I shall spend more time reacquainting myself with the treasures in my library and more time rambling in the woods with Himself and Spencer, camera slung around my neck and notebook in hand. I shall spend more time watching sunrises and moonrises, more time listening than talking, more time just sitting and breathing, in and out, in and out. In other words, I shall work on the same stuff I worked on last year: on finding a measure of authenticity, on cultivating decency, tolerance and compassion, on loving the earth and plain old being kind. All are qualities which seem fragile and imperiled in our times, and I have a very long way to go.

Roshi John Tarrant, one of my favorite Zen thinkers and teachers, gives us a list of things to remember at any time of the year. His words are chock full of wisdom, and I return to them over and over again.

At this turning of the year, I offer up thanks to deities great and small for Himself and Spencer, for tribe, community, hearth and sangha, for good friends and traveling companions far and wide, for mountains, rivers and trees, radiant moons and starry starry nights. I give thanks for the wild wisdom and enlightenment of which I have yet to partake, but which I trust are waiting for me somewhere up the trail. Emaho!

8 comments:

kerrdelune said...

Like WOW.... It is -30 Celsius here this morning with the wind chill factored in, and since Fahrenheit and Celsius meet at -32, that means it is about -30 Fahrenheit also.

Mystic Meandering said...

"Hugging the shore of one's life is just fine, but the Great Mystery makes its home further out...paddle into the deep waters..." There's always that call into deeper waters, isn't there... I feel it too, more so in these waning years; a call to leave the shore behind and deepen into Essence of the Mystery of Being... So I'll join you in that canoe, paddling fiercely (under the ice :) into the Unknown that awaits... Looking forward to the exploration! Shall I bring scones? :) C

Angie said...

Please bring the scones, Mystic---I tagging along with the two of you as well. :) Lovely lovely words, Cate, that send my thoughts spiraling outward, wandering, longing...for I know not what...

Cindy said...

"I secretly aspire to become a commanding presence in my elder years, someone wise, compelling and a little scary". Me too, Cate. Me. too! This line just tickles me! But as for you not being "grand"....I disagree. You are grand beyond measure. Grand, indeed!

kerrdelune said...

Scones will be lovely. I shall bring a flask of tea, dried fruit and oatcakes, and we shall all paddle on together in grand fashion. Here is to all of us in this brand new year.

liliannattel said...

Thank you for the link. I ended up bookmarking it. There is so much in it and it made me laugh and smile and nod and remember things I always forget. So do you!

Guy said...

Hi Cate

A lovely post I took the liberty of printing it for my journal I hope you don't mind.

Guy

Shell said...

As always, you write with beautiful elegance, Cate.
Sometimes, I wish I could come with you on your rambles with Spencer.