Christmas is over, and I’m grateful that it is.
“Comfort” and “joy” were supposed to be the watchwords of the Santa and sensory overload season, yet neither seemed to apply. Now we turn the calendar page, where the traditional literary harbingers “anticipation” and “opportunity” point us toward what the New Year might, in the best of situations, turn out to bring. We’re encouraged to reflect on our lives and resolve to do better, act better, parent better or perform better at our jobs. Any one of those will do, yet I find I’m unable to buy into the zeal.
Our living rooms are littered with bits of wrapping paper whose Scotch-taped corners cling to the carpet where the vacuum won’t reach. Even though the tree has been dragged out the front door, pine needles linger like the liquored breath of the last bad holiday visitor, stale and unwelcome.
Sadness, punctuated by fleeting moments of peace, saturates the silence. We trudge on.
Filtered staccato sunlight fell on the roadway during my morning run today. It was the first sun I’d seen in more than a week, and it fed me as I loped along, trying not to slip on the mossy inclines or trip on branches that have fallen from oaks and maples in the early winter rain and wind.
I’m different now, and so is my running. The impact has compressed my vertebrae and made me shorter. I used to be five-foot-three and now I’m five-foot-one, a little more wobbly, slightly bent over, slower. In all probability I’ll never again run a Boston Marathon qualifying time or break four hours over 26.2 miles. All of that’s okay, I tell myself as I push my body forward, reveling in the movement despite the sub-40 degree wind against my face.
Afterward, I reluctantly crack the front door of our neighborhood bakery and see Max standing there. “Hey — how are you?” I greet our grizzled, wisecracking 80-something Jewish professor friend. “Above ground,” he quips in his usual, sometimes-but-not-all-the-time off color manner.
“Yep, that’s where it starts,” I reply, bantering with him.
“But not where it ends,” he retorts, both of us knowing that is most certainly true.
A little boy once was asked what he thought about the way life was going for him so far. “Mostly good, some bad,” he responded after a moment’s consideration.
Even though I’ve come to subscribe to the Buddhist principle that life is suffering, in recent months our family has endured just about all the Some Bad we can take. As we continue to struggle to find our equilibrium beneath the crushing weight of 2012, we search the sky for signs of gentleness and unrelenting goodness in 2013.