A Quiet New Year

I think I am afraid of the quiet. Afraid to let my mind rest. I have been binge-watching medical dramas and experienced a bit of panic when I realized I’ve watched all that are available on the streaming networks I subscribe to. I nearly subscribed to another to continue watching one that I am only mildly interested in. Plot holes. Inconsistent characters. Poor dialogue. Questionable moral standpoints. So there’s…

Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Podcasts.

It seems I stay with any particular past-time until I hit a point of frustration that sends me to the next. I’m playing emotional Ping-pong. Looking for affirmations, escapism and getting smacked back. And that in itself is frustrating: knowing what I am trying to avoid, knowing that it’s foolish to try to avoid it, and still looking.

I misread something on my Twitter feed and thought a comment aimed at Boris Johnson was aimed at me. The point is: I flinched. I’m not using a metaphor here. I physically flinched. Even odder is the fact that the comment was part of a tweet I had retweeted myself.

Last year I don’t think I made any New Year’s Resolutions. I thought I was in a good place. This year is different. Everything hurts. I am tired of all of this hurt.

I am beginning to wonder if my need for escapism has everything to do with my reluctance to go for a run, or even a walk in the woods. My reluctance to write.

I’m afraid to make room for thoughts.

But it is like trying to run through an endless mire without getting my shoes muddy. The thoughts creep in. But as I slow down, I realize that it isn’t as bad as I anticipated. B. is dying. And we talk about movies and books and wildfires. We talk about what to do with what we learn (and don’t like) about people we love.

And I listen a lot more than I usually do.

I’m not going to appropriate her story, her lessons. But I am going to stay conscious of the lessons she is teaching me now, through the perspective she chooses to share with me.

“Life is too short” isn’t a platitude this afternoon as the calendar flips to 2022.

What I have learned now, at the close of 2021, is that holding two truths that bump against each other is painful, but possible. Necessary, even.

That an unwillingness to consider/allow for/discuss/listen to another perspective is not a sign of confidence in one’s own knowledge/beliefs/intelligence.

That “all or nothing” is a luxury illusion none of us can afford – not in terms of possessions, not in terms of loyalties.

That, as our worldviews get smaller we cling to our rage and outrage to justify our creeping, ever-narrowing circles of compassion.

I am reinterpreting the myth of Narcissus. I believe he must have been fixated on the tiniest of pools. The world as a teaspoon of sugared water… seen through the eyes of Narcissus while he’s listening to a podcast through his earbuds.

I need to go for a walk before the sun sets.

2 Replies to “A Quiet New Year”

  1. Thank you for this wonderful way to end the year. You put a lot of words on how I’m feeling and what I’ve learned. I know I have to do my own but reading you has encouraged me. On a cold cloudy winter day in New Hampshire you gave me some warmth and light. Blessings on your near year.

  2. Bright bright blessings winging your way, Ren. I have been in that bingeing mode so many times, and I am sure it will return. And like you, I often find solace in the walking… but man it can be hard to get myself off the couch and away from the screen or book or whatever I have been CRAMMING into myself. Enjoy your walk, my friend. I am shutting down this computer now and will join you.


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