“An ounce of behavior is worth a pound of words.” (Sanford Meisner)
There were many times in 2017 when I felt like I’d fallen down an Alice in Wonderland hole and found myself in an alternate reality. The year for me began with the funerals of two life long friends, family really, who left this world with a bang and a whimper which left all of us who loved them reeling and in shock. Loss is like that. It’s as if a limb is suddenly missing, the world feels strange, nothing looks quite the same. Twice this last year a dear friend died (both in their early 60’s mind you) and their mothers, who were still alive at the time--if not more than a little fragile--decided on some cosmic level, no thanks, this particular pain at this age is too much, and I am outta here. One died the next day after her child (always our child no matter the age) and the other within a few days of her (second) child dying in her lifetime. It really made me ponder our will and the sometimes tenuous thread that keeps us tethered to this world. They just let go. And I don’t blame them. As I keep saying, the longer I live the more I believe in the power of the unseen and unknown, as much as or more, than the seen and the known. This past year has only further etched that belief into my being.
It should be said that within the last couple of years I’ve actually lost seven dear friends that I loved and that made this world a better, surely more interesting, place. They were all in their 60’s (some just barely) and it has ushered in for me a melancholy I can’t seem to shake. My other friends and I have started to say “love you....don’t die” when we end our conversations. I feel as though I am holding on for dear life on one hand and disconnecting a bit from this world on the other. By that I mean with each death and the hole that comes with it, I’m somehow a little less attached to this earth plane. It began with my parents, but it was a small inkling then as I was still feeling the honor and the natural state of things in carrying on our family legacy. It was simply that death just got a teensy bit less scary knowing they were on the other side. Now it’s getting to be more like a really interesting party I would want to go to over there, in ‘passed on-ville’ well, maybe not just yet, I can’t bear the thought of not seeing another sunset or holding my hopefully not too far in the future grandchild. Life can still be so sweet, and honestly I think I have some important things to do.
Next up in 2017 right around those funerals for me, we swore in our next President. And it seems some rung of hell was loosened and hurled itself toward earth with a mission. It wasn’t just him, it was everything. The world got tired of holding back, if we don’t care about our environment, why should the earth try so hard to hold it together. Extreme heat, fires, deaths, pieces of the earth literally melting, unprecedented hurricanes, extreme cold, because let’s face it our penance for being bad stewards of our resources is: EXTREME everything. Hunger, destruction, death, no water, no fuel, no food, no clean air or anything else. You can deny it all you want, keep rearranging those deck chairs on the Titanic, it doesn’t matter, mark my words, this coming year will be worse than last year in terms of extremes. I used to be a bona fide ‘glass half full’ person (just ask my British beyond cynical ex) but not anymore when it comes to certain things. It’s just too hard to ignore Rome burning all around me. You should have been living in California during these recent fires, you’d understand. Reality Trumps positivity sometimes. It’s just not weighing me down, it’s calling me to action.
What I am interested in as we enthusiastically wave goodbye and good luck to this brutal (both globally and personally on varying levels) year, and welcome a new year (2018??!) into our lives, is to stop talking about or debating or arguing over everything, talk talk talk. How about we lay aside personal resolutions and intentions this year and summon all our courage, all our focus, and all our discipline so that we can be people of integrity and action. Live it. Stop talking. Stop obsessive self-helping, stop thinking more than we act, and resolve to have an unshakable depth of character. It’s been missing in far too many people for far too long (seen the news lately about men without an internal integrity or character?! It costs everything in the end.) We need to collectively start caring for others more than for ourselves. Hello, Golden Rule! I believe it is our only way out of this mess, or maybe there is no way out, but it is perhaps a way THROUGH it as we step into an uncertain, unknown 2018. And with the fragility of life being so front and center these days, caring for others is a far better legacy than self-obsession. I still believe love can prevail and light can shine in the midst of this sometimes overwhelming darkness we all find ourselves in. Let’s all shut up and do something. On that note, Happy New Year everyone, may peace and health and sanity reign. Or at least find some kind of strong footing on this shaky ground.