Thoughts at the end of the year

Genius that I am, I had tossed the card onto the one spot of the log where the flames couldn’t reach it.

As I watched the fire flicker on either side of it, I knew that even though it wasn’t the sort of thing I go for, the whole point of the exercise was that the card would burn.

I took several deep breaths and admired the tops of the trees and the sky overhead. There wasn’t any great lesson in it, just relaxation.

Suzi and I were taking the Solstice Walk at a local museum. We had planned on going last year, but it was called off due to an ice storm, so it was a new item on the Suzi’s Wonderful Christmas calendar.

For the week before Christmas and one of the longest nights of the year, the weather was actually not bad — cold, but not freezing, with no wind and a clear, starry sky.

However, I spent the first part of the walk looking mostly at my feet. Having passed on a walking stick — those are for old people, right? — I was worried about slipping on the patches of ice as we headed down the slight incline.

Then we stopped in the woods, and that reminder came back — “look up.”

I took several deep breaths and admired the tops of the trees and the sky overhead. There wasn’t any great lesson in it, just relaxation.

What sounded at first like one dog barking in the distance turned into a couple dogs and then seemingly the whole neighborhood of dogs before we realized it was probably a group of coyotes.

Whatever they were doing, they were doing loudly.

As we walked back, we stopped at the edge of a field to look at the stars. Several people, including Suzi, pointed out a constellation, something I’ve never been able to do.

The last thing we did before going inside for hot chocolate — one of our fellow walkers recognized us from the gym, and I ever-so-gracefully responded “Oh yeah … the guy with the bike, and the sweat!” because he puts a towel down to catch the sweat when he rides an exercise bike — was to stop at a table where cards and pencils were waiting.

The task was to write an intention for the season ahead that we’d then throw on the fire. The whole concept seemed kind of hokey to me — especially as someone who doesn’t make New Year’s resolutions — but it seemed to fit the spirit of the moment, plus I was in a mood where an answer came quickly.

So I wrote a word — nope, so don’t ask — folded up the card and tossed it on the fire.

As far as this blog goes for 2022, it peaked on New Year’s Day.

Due to a combination of extreme writer’s block and a lack of motivation that still has me unsure what this here spot on the internet will look like in the future, I wrote a lot less, with the corresponding loss of page views to go along with it.

But my most-read post was one I wrote on Jan. 1 about how I’d be turning 50 this year and had no idea how that was supposed to feel.

Seven months after my birthday, I’m still not really sure, but I was taken aback when I went to get my flu and COVID vaccine booster shots and there on the form was “50” in the spot for my age.

There’s no good reason for this to be included, just that my friend Sue shared the memory on Facebook and tagged me.

It’s a 1994 college yearbook photo of the campus radio station. Because it may not be obvious, I’m the one on the right.

Why the women were not flinging themselves at me, I’ll never know. (Actually, I do know, and it’s reasons beyond this photo, but yeah … I thought that looked good.)

Not that I try very often, but I have taken exactly one good selfie in my life.

I guess being in Switzerland to celebrate 20 years of marriage with the best person there is lends itself to it.

Suzi liked the photo so much, she made a bunch of framed copies and gave them out as Christmas gifts — one for my parents and one each for my nightstand and my desk at work — and kept one for herself.

And oh yeah … we went to Switzerland!

There’s something I like to call “red car syndrome,” where shortly after you buy something … a red car, for example … that’s all you see.

That was the backpack Suzi bought for our trip to Switzerland. Not only did it seem like everyone in our travels was toting one, they also showed up in random American bookstores.

Suzi also bought me one for Christmas.

The actual brand name for the backpack is Fjällräven Kånken, but we just call them our “fahrvergnügen” bags because the semi-made-up word from Volkswagen’s “driving fun” is just easier to say.

One of us said “frowned upon,” causing the other to automatically say “IN THIS ESTABLISHMENT!”

We’ve been doing it for years, but hadn’t remembered where it came from. Fortunately, Google is our friend, which brought us to the E-Trade baby, whose crime was riding a dog like a small horse.

Fahrvergnügen and the E-Trade baby … how many people have no idea what I’m talking about?

“My friend Madeleine, an otherworldly oracle of wisdom, told me, ‘You know who would have the right words to say right now? You. Mari. You are so good at understanding complicated grief; not everyone is going to be able to do that for you. So maybe this is a situation where you need to…be your own Mari.’”

My Year in Failures,” Mari Andrew

I could have written a lot of things on that card.

I need to eat better so I can lose weight, exercise more, read more, write more … all the standard stuff people talk about this time of year. However, I chose something bigger, something having to do with how I deal with the world and how I let it deal with me.

The card did eventually burn. Unfortunately, the answer wasn’t in the smoke. I’m going to have to be my own Bill, but need to figure out a lot of stuff along the way.

So that’s where I am at the end of 2022.

We’ll see what 2023 brings.

Happy New Year.


3 thoughts on “Thoughts at the end of the year

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s