It’s A Year!

trixie bliss

“A Long Winter’s Nap” / Kathryn Petro ©2004

Greetings to the New Year! I hope you had a gentle and joyful holiday season. Mine was, though poignance and grief were blended in. I spent 18 days in Washington with my future in-laws, helping my father-in-law-to-be get to his radiation treatments for two weeks. I also assisted with holiday and guest preparations. Despite the stress inherent in the situation, it was a wonderful opportunity to get to know them better, to become their daughter in a way we had not yet experienced. They will continue to seek treatment for as long as there is something to pursue, knowing that in time, we must learn the difficult lesson of letting go. But not just yet.

The photo above is of Trixie, a cantankerous Devon Rex who is happiest when she is sitting on someone as long as they don’t move. The composition of curves and lines revealed in the soft light caught my eye. It makes a fetching picture. She was my buddy during my visit, and fortunately for me my own two cats aren’t jealous types. We were happily reunited on the 28th. I’ve spent the subsequent days settling in — cleaning, grocery shopping, unpacking.

So it is another year. Another January in which to attempt new behaviors with great intention before abandoning them. Another journey — marched or sauntered — through 365 days. Surprises await, some delightful, others disappointing. Ecstasy awaits, as does intense pain. As I watched the ball drop in Times Square, I thought of the millions of people who are in living hell in South Asia. My happiness was tempered by this awareness. The new year varies in meaning depending on one’s life at that time: for some, it symbolizes hope for new beginnings. For others, it is desperation (another year passed and I still didn’t do X?). For many it is a time of grief for recent losses, or for the memories of older loss stirred up. For just as many, it is simply a time when we struggle to write the correct year on various documents.

The world is immense, big enough to hold it all. One lesson I have learned over the years, that I keep affirming on any anniversary, is that opposites can co-exist. I can experience happiness, and this does not deny the reality of suffering. Likewise, I do not need to forsake happiness and only suffer. We have permission to be trivial and profound; we can wonder what to make for dinner while our hearts feel the weight of disaster. We are capable of doing this, if we will but allow ourselves to be with paradox.

As for myself, this is a good year to appreciate complexity, to relax my desire to control events, and to accept contradictions. It’s also an ideal time to make more art, savor more food, nurture more plants, read more books, and talk more often with “my peoples” — one moment, one day, one season at a time. To those of you who have written me in the past month with your heartfelt wishes, please know that I have held them close. I’m so grateful you are out there, faithfully checking in. It’s good to be back.

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