“For last year's words belong to last year's language, and next year's words await another voice” (T.S. Eliot, "Four Quartets").
It's easy to allow Life to rein us in during our so-called Golden Years, an age when New Year’s resolutions wilt like plucked daisies, Bucket Lists spring leaks and the tug of eternal gravity threatens to pull us into an early grave. It feels like a Black Hole some days, a siphoning vortex that ultimately overpowers the solar flare impetus of youth. What happens to that age of innocence, of reaching for stars and dreaming big?
"(The old man) had, indeed, a great many things to say, and yet, after just a quarter of an hour's talk…came up short. The past is a pit where impressions of the moment are endlessly accumulated, layer by layer, the more recent obscuring the others which in time become a formless mass, where it is difficult to find anything clear (Emile Guillaumin, "The Life of a Simple Man").
The mirror doesn’t lie, and reminds me that I have become my father. An epidemic of gray hair—that wretched bonnet of wisdom—herds me kicking and screaming toward corrals of age appropriate behavior. Good Lord knows I go in protest, so He piles it on. (Really, God? What's your point?)
It’s just that I'm not ready for Caribbean cruises with six thousand risk-averse cows feeding at the slop-trough of all-you-can-eat buffets. Oh the banality, to then be further herded (a la cattle driven) to tree top Zip Line lines, sunset photo-op ops and “mixers,” where “natives” demonstrate how to make bras out of coconuts and weave baskets from strips of bamboo...now imported from China due to chronic deforestation as a result of tourists seeking indigenous trinkets.
I've long considered New Year's resolutions an exercise in futility and self-abuse. I mean, why wait till 12:01 a.m. on January first to begin anew…to quit smoking, lose weight, start an exercise program or resolve to change something about myself or the world that I'm not particularly fond of? There is no inherent magic in waiting for the ball to drop in Times Square; no inspiration in the "oohs and aahs" of celebratory fireworks beyond the last boom; no resolve in stroke-of-midnight kisses that lead to progress…unless a new baby is among your resolutions. We acquiesce to miserable headaches and blurred vision leftovers from a blistering New Year's, and falter at the alter of resolve…which only serves to reaffirm negative self images of weakness, lethargy and failure.
In the trademark acerbic sentiment of Mark Twain, “Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”
So, in the spirit of spitting in the face of lost youth, gravity and Hell’s pavement, here's my New Year's toast for both young and old: May you screw up, make new mistakes and keep starting over; to new beginnings, where hope burns eternal. Cheers!
English author Neil Gaiman wrote, “If you are making mistakes, you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself…your world…doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life."
Again the old man, "I end as I began; old age and childhood have their analogies; extremes often meet." Dear readers, life is but a circle waiting to be completed…its gap ever shrinking.
Today's Hopes and Dreams are like today's swing sets; they come as a "kit" and fall out of the box in a million pieces. It is our task to patiently assemble, for only then can we step into them. Whatever it is you've been afraid of doing, do it now, “For last year's words belong to last year's language, and (this) year's words await another voice.” T.S. Eliot, "Four Quartets."
Mark Johnson is a restless soul who lives in Ouray, Colorado with his wife, Bobbie. He is happiest when exploring the West's nooks and crannies, hiking, climbing and moun- tain biking. He authors two "wanderlust" based blogs: www.Artfulrvadventures.com and www.Boxcanyonblog.com.