There are two days remaining in 2013. Forgive me.. but it was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. It will be a year I gladly say goodbye to at midnight tomorrow night. There were lots of questions.. and far too few answers. There were unanswered prayers (man I hate waiting!) and prayers where God did answer and simply said "No." And there were times I felt a joyful YES! in waves, in the wind in the trees, in the sparkle on water I'd never seen before. There were births filled with joy and deaths filled with incredible sorrow. Celebrations of life that included a wedding and funeral in the span of five days. There was unimaginable peace, and incredible chaos. Mountainous peaks where I felt the sun on my face and dark valleys full of shadows. Great love and friendship, and the deep pain of betrayal. A roller coaster I didn't relish in the least, but I rode it over and over again because I had no other choice. Or so I thought. Until one day, I just didn't. I got off. It is amazing how different the view looks from down here. How much I hear and see and feel when I am on solid ground looking up at the thrill ride of the century. If I had known what that was gonna feel like, I guarantee you I would never have gotten on that thing in the first place. I would have left the theme park, shut the gate behind me, locked it with a giant padlock and said.. no. freakin'. way. I'm glad I don't know ahead of time what it's gonna feel like. Not knowing, sometimes makes me braver.
North of here last week, our little place on Lake Ontario and all the other camps and towns around it, weathered a weekend of freezing rain that encased everything in ice and then began wreaking destruction to trees, power lines and homes followed by a weeklong cold snap that did not allow any of it to melt. We drove up there this past weekend and I was stunned by how many of the weaker branches and even some of the very solid ones had literally been snapped by what appeared to be one of Mother Nature's tantrums. Incredibly, though they were damaged, and some of them quite badly, most of those solid trunks still stood reaching toward the sky as if in total defiance. As I watched mile after mile pass through that frosty car window, a truth began to sink in. They stood, because they had roots. They did not fall under the fury of that storm, because their roots held them firmly in place, even as some of their branches were so encrusted by ice, they fell off and were carried away. The storm came and loss with it, but I know in the spring, new branches will grow, the torn places will heal. Most of these trees will survive. And how do I know? Experience.
My son taught me an important lesson through his love for gardening and for all things that grow. He just refuses to give up on a plant that isn't perfect. I watch him gently care for the weakest of plants I would long since have given up on. The ones that look as if there is no hope left. He keeps watering. Keeps clipping off the dead wood. Keeps hoping for signs of new life. As a result, every single one of his sad looking little orchids we bought at Home Depot and the grocery store is covered in buds that are ready to burst out in flowers and healthy leaves.
2013 was a year of culling for me. Of separating those that do not know me, from those who truly do, or are beginning to. Of recognizing, by the same token, that there are those I know and those I don't, and don't necessarily want to. Of letting that be okay. We live in an age where a million followers on twitter is something to be prized. Where likes and plusses and shares, determine our worth. Where our "klout" is based on things that have no foundation beneath them.. no roots. Where we know some of the best and worst moments of other people's lives, without ever knowing where they came from, what their favorite food or color is, who their parents and best "real life" friends are. What their mom or their sister's name is. It's just weird.
I can't change 2013. But I can look forward to 2014. I can choose to really know the handful of people I know, whether online or off. To let them know me. To care enough to ask, if I don't know something, rather than assume that I already do, based on something I perceived on social media. To look people in the eye with love and compassion and kindness, recognizing that they are as beautifully imperfect as I am...their struggles and heartaches, joys and sorrows, challenges and triumphs so similar to my own. To forgive, and then to forgive all over again, dropping the stone at my feet, recognizing that we are all pretty much the same, behind the eyes.
And to write about that. Here. Often.