Friday, November 28, 2014

GIVING THANKS: "Thankful Forward"

Thankful Forward

By Judith Cullen
(c) 2014

I suppose this essay should come out for New Years.  That’s the precedent, really.  Except, if you think about it, do you really wait until the 26th of December to think about next year, what it means to you and what you want for it?  I doubt it.  If you were a business, you might have been thinking about it while you were spitting out watermelon seeds in July’s blazing sun.  More likely, you were thinking about it after last year’s holiday debris had been relegated to the recycling bin.  So, November is quite late to be doing this.

I am looking ahead to 2015 as I have looked forward to no other year in recent memory.  I can’t quite explain it.  Something in my gut tells me it will be different.  Of course, that’s what we all want from a new year.  However, I think I have already put my finger on what is going to make 2015 distinct, and I am beginning right now to be thankful for it.

For the first time in a long time I am setting course for a new year with liberated expectations.  That’s tough for someone over 50.  Expectations start to pile up like dishes after the Thanksgiving feast pretty quickly once you legally become an adult.  Oddly, life seems to afford you little opportunity to scrub and wipe fast enough to keep those pesky thoughts and desires from accumulating.  After a while, your expectations of yourself and others – of life in general – can become like Fibber McGee’s closet: an avalanche waiting to happen.  Your own management of them can be so much opening, darting in, and slamming of doors before it all overwhelms you.

So why do I feel free to be thankful in advance? It is about being excited for all the right reasons.  What?  To explain, I am not excited about 2015 because it’s not 2014 and I am all done with that, or because 2015 has got to be better.  I am not laying the expectation of today’s failures and disappointments on the new annum like a 12 year old play ground bully: “Let’s see if YOU can do better.”

I am genuinely expectant because there are so many possibilities, and I have no idea how they will play out. The blank page is a well used metaphor, at the risk of overusing it, and 2015 for me is a true blank page - a canvas full of possibilities.  I am not dragging last year’s scribbles into it.  I may use some familiar hues, but the opportunities are there to use them in new ways.  That is what has me bouncing with anticipation.

As for this year?  You know, I don’t really hate this year, or last year, or the year before that.  The universe does not quantify itself in 12 month – 365 day calibrations.  That is something that we have developed to suit our own very human requirements.  The universe is dynamic, not static.  When I look back at my life to date, I find myself resisting the urge to identify the last 3-6-8 years as a “transition.”  If I am honest, life is one continual transition – one journey along many paths.  Though I may find myself pining for times that have passed and now are featured in the deceptive hues of golden memory, the truth is they were just as full of struggle, uncertainty, and triumphs as any other.

Yesterday I picked up my Nephew from College and drove him home for Thanksgiving.  I could tell on the drive up that the 90 minutes it took to get from our home town to his campus was not going to be repeatable on the return.  Huge, looming, parking lot back ups were already firmly in place on the interstate in multiple locations.  So I called the appropriate home folk, told them this would take several hours, and focused on making the return drive an adventure.  And it was, complete with triumphal cackling when we succeeded in making progress, kamikaze dashes into drug stores for Doritos and chocolate, and lots of not sweating the delays too much.

That’s how I feel about the 2015. I can’t manipulate it and mold it into something I think it should be.  That would eliminate the joy of discovery and the organic nature of creative journeys.  Why would I want to do that?  The New Year is out of my control, so the best thing to do is hang on and have the best time possible.  Or, from a different point of view, the only way to control it is not to try: have an open mind and heart, show respect for solemn moments, laugh heartily for victorious ones, and tell everyone that you love that you do love them – say it often, say it sincerely from deep in your heart.

Note Thankful Forward will be published in my upcoming collection of Essays and Poems - Coffee Shop Talk.  Look for it on Amazon for Kindle and in Paperback.

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