Grasshopper Soup: Old and new years through older eyes
December 31, 2008
Rumor has it, this is the last day of the year 2008. I think I heard something about it on a Seinfeld rerun. Is it true? Are you sure it’s not still 1966? I smell patchouli oil.
For some reason, the new year is supposed to be a big deal, a personally, publicly and cosmically significant day, more so than the other 364 days. Or, in my case, 21,184 days.
Life is too much to take standing up. We need official reasons to party. Monday night football just isn’t enough. So don your gay apparel and keep your eye on the clock, get some booze and get ready to hoot and holler over the sobering significance of one split second in all eternity. And significant it is, maybe more than we know.
I’ve seen 58 new years eves. They’ve all been, well, I don’t know. I can’t remember any of them. Maybe being oblivious to them contributed to my old perception that time is just another round of tequila shots and the new year is a stranger you wake up with.
I quit staying up ’till midnight on New Years years ago. New years are old years. But they never lose their luster. As a matter of fact, they get better.
Remembering significant historical events of the old year is a great tradition. But, as I age I become more interested in, and thankful for, the common things, the truly memorable things, like the bald eagle that flew over the road in front of me as I drove west on Interstate 80 this year, near Blue Canyon. For some miraculous reason, I do know that it was this year. How I remember, don’t even ask. It’s a mystery to me.
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Usually the first thing I see when I think about passing years is the pages of the calendar being torn away by the wind. The passing of a year is like eternity. It doesn’t come and go. It is always there. If we are lucky enough to see time and life for what they really are while we are still alive, that is a rare and great experience. Such good fortune is vastly superior to all worldly fortune. Abe Lincoln said it best, “It is not the amount of years in your life, but the amount of life in your years.”
So I don’t celebrate the stroke of midnight anymore. If I am even awake at that time it could only be because of an earthquake, or a nuclear explosion.
I leave the fun to inebriated people wearing pointy party hats blowing on festive cardboard noise makers that go, “Honk! Spffft! Braaaaam! Splat!” I was one of them once. Then I realized I was just a figment of my own imagination. So I got rid of that guy. If he ever shows up again he will be uninvited. And he’ll have some explaining to do.
This year I learned very good things can come from deep personal loss and physical suffering. What is really important in life, and what is not, became crystal clear. I learned who my true friends and family really are, and more people care about me than I knew. I learned that always putting others first is the only thing that can change the world.
My New Year’s resolution for 2009 is to savor the simple things as if they were the most pleasurable and important things life has to offer, and to fear nothing and no one, not death or even Sarah Palin becoming president someday.
I will talk less and look more, at the sky, the trees, and cherish the shared pleasure of being able to walk the earth with others and see it pass beneath my feet. To be able to open a door or a window, chisel ice from the steps or look at the ground, glad for whatever my fingers touch or my eyes chance to gaze upon, is paradise on earth.
I will look at every person I meet as an opportunity for understanding, kind words, and genuine laughter. I will respect them for their ideas, no matter how different from my own. I hope everyone in America resolves to do the same.
Happy New Year!