It’s a new year and it feels like a good time to write a new story.
A fever came over me on New Year’s Eve and I took it as a good omen: I will purge the old through sweat and heat and prepare myself for something new. Like a controlled fire in a woodland, the fever would burn off the detritus and I would start anew. Part of me has always secretly enjoyed short bouts of illness as if they were a ritual of passage, like a sweatlodge ceremony.
No matter how good the year has been — and this has been a good one — I am glad to leave it behind. What’s past is past. Old prizes just collect dust on the mantel. I want to live what comes next.
The old story was a damn good one; it really had some zingers, some fine moments, touching moments, moments of struggle, stumbling, grandeur — but now it is time to start something new.
Okay. To be fair, the new story will be a continuation of the old one. Like a new season. There will be some new characters probably, some unexpected plot twists, some traits hitherto only aluded to that may come to the fore and make all the difference. Maybe the changes will be Big and Dramatic or maybe they will be quiet and unassuming, something that rumbles from below, a small and nearly impercetible movement that reveals itself to be a tectonic shift.
I have never planned but only felt. It has lead to an unconventional life but, looking back, a good one. The lines were not straight but my saving grace is that I moved with determination through each leg. It is less important what you do than how you do it. A thing done without passion is a thing undone.
The deep ideas come from the body not the mind. The mind is a wild creature. It is capable of marvelous flights but it also schemes and sabotages and projects. The mind is the great deceiver. The body, however, is grounded. It speaks in the gurgle of blood in our veins, the stench of our bowels, the certainty of our coming demise. The body knows limits that our over-ambitious mind will never accept.
I love my mind but I do not trust its progeny if not vetted by the body. If I have an important decision to take, I know that I will find the answer somewhere in my flesh. So many times a brilliant idea, a clever phrase, a new path to explore, burbles up from below while I am doing yoga or dancing. How many times has a foul mood been cured by a visit to the milonga? Or a stint at the ballet bar? The body is truth.
So, as I move into a new year and all that it may hold, I resolve to approach it from the earth-bound wisdom of my body. Gone are the days when my mind would concoct long documents in preparation for the new year — and I would go along with the farce. Whatever I do this time around, I will face it from the divine matrix of gray hairs, the beginnings of a paunch that sometimes surprises me in photos, an overwhelming need to stop and rest at times. This year I resolve to embrace the limits as well as the possibilities because it is an understanding of our limits that frees us and gives meaning to those brief moments when we soar.
I may be 58 but I hope to surprise myself in 2024.