And so the last day of 2011 has arrived and here I sit, eating oatcakes and drinking lavender tea and knowing not what to feel. Something in me despises this urge to recap: to regurgitate what is now past and to try to pull from its ugly, joyous depths something that makes sense of yesterday and promises, through the lessons learned, hope for tomorrow. I can't decide if there is any purpose in looking back. Not when life is so very short.
In the coming year I will turn forty. In the last, everything I knew about being alive, about those who were muddling alongside me, came undone and the ties that bind loosened their grip and cast me adrift. For I am adrift. Making up new rules for a new decade of my life and knowing, like I said, not what to feel.
In some ways this is astonishingly liberating: to have to test the boundaries of your own heart and mind where once there were the fierce fences of protective love. Fences that in forty years one had not known it was possible to climb. But in other ways it is terrifying and I feel as though I am a baby taking her first steps on the landing, stumbling towards steep stairs and not knowing whether my little legs are capable of propelling themselves apace or whether I will tip down head first and spend the rest of my life muddling through the kind of fog emotional brain damage is liable to cast over possibility.
This though is what I do know: on the precipice of 2012 I am changed. 2011 delivered much to be celebrated: Finley's new school and the associated community. The gift, the absolutely astonishing gift that is meditation. Record sales of my lovely, hopefully life changing downloads here on Brocantehome, that have gone a long way to providing myself and Finley with the kind of financial independence that doesn't compromise my ability to make decisions. A proposal that was everything it should have been, and a ring I am still treasuring on the third finger of my left hand. Jimmy the kitten! In many, many ways it has been an incredible year and I was making huge decisions and choosing a new way of life long before the events of September left this terrible, indelible blot upon my soul. My perspective was shifting regardless: I just didn't realise it. I took my son out of a school that was dampening his spirit. I welcomed a little kitten into our home. I let go of the decorative certainties I thought meant something within these four walls. I listened to my heart and used what I heard to instruct my head. That something so awful forced my hand in all of this, is merely one of the twists of fate we can either deny or use to change course, and truly begin to know ourselves.
So here I am: newly blessed with the ability to be present, right here and right now. Neither looking back, nor looking forward, but using mindfulness to experience the now and be present and available to the little joys it has to share, and grounding a mind liable to wander into terrifying territory, with an exercise I learnt from a gentle counselor who is week by week offering me the gift of my adult self.
I used to think you see that life was static. That we believed what we believed because we believed it. But it isn't true, we believe what we believe because we do not know that there are alternatives until life goes and chucks them at us. We do not realize that there is more because we are so busy treading water trying to maintain the status-quo, and if I can take away only one lesson from a year in which the man I now know to be my rock, tore apart my paper-thin sails with the razor-sharp crevices of his mind, it is this: we cannot know each other. We cannot know each other at all and we exhaust ourselves trying, so all that is left is to go to work on knowing ourselves truly, madly and deeply intimately. To do the work. To get to know ourselves, physically, emotionally and spiritually to such a degree that we have no choice but to trust our instincts at every turn.
The passing of a year gone by isn't a mini death. It isn't even a birth of sorts. It is merely twelve chimes of the same old bells. That is all. Night turns to morning and we are who we were. We do not change because the calendar did, we change because we are halfway through the kind of transformative journey that simply being alive is. Oh gosh... I am, as usual struggling to explain this coherently so once again I will bow to poetry and let the American writer W.S.Merwin in his poem To the New Year put it better than I ever could...
so this is the sound of you here and now whether or not anyone hears it this is where we have come with our age our knowledge such as it is and our hopes such as they are invisible before us untouched and still possible
Because yes: despite it all, despite ups and downs, heartbreak and joy, pain and promise, despite it all, we are who we are and we enter a New Year with all our hopes and dreams attached. Believe it and understand possibility is still alive.
Possibility IS still alive!