My, my, how time has flown! Once again, I’m faced with the last day of the year. Beau and I take advantage of the bright sunny afternoon. I buckle him up, put on my hat, scarf and warm jacket. Off we walked, somewhere in our neighborhood.
Who was it that said, walking, for all its repetitive predictable movement, affords us the appreciation of our surroundings for all their natural beauty? Eventually, we are able to blank our minds and then go to little quiet corners beyond our mind’s eyes, where we can bare ourselves to what we have gathered and put away for precious and private rumination.
The media abounds in hours and hours of “the year that was” or the “year in review,” touting unprecedented disasters, landmark events, and famous people who will no longer share the world stage. Yes, we grieve for the untimely passing of Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman. We re-read Gabriel Garcia Marquez and P.D. James, and watch again Mike Nichols’ works. We bid farewell Bob Hoskins, Joan Rivers, Maya Angelou. We listen to Joe Cocker’s signature voice, and revel the wonderful creations of Oscar de la Renta. I reminisce Casey Kasem’s familiar voice counting his top 40’s because I had grown up listening to him in Manila. Yes, he reached us there even back then.
But, we will leave the news media to rehash Ebola, the auto recalls, Crimea and Putin with his hollow victories. We will skip the race related events and cries against police brutality, our never-ending intoxication for guns (Ever notice how quiet the NRA has been since these senseless deaths? I wonder if they’ll still be silent over the recent death of an Idaho woman who was accidentally shot with her own gun by her two-year old son at a Wal-Mart store or the boy who was being taught how to fire an Uzi and accidentally shot his instructor, who we later found out is a war hero. What a waste!), the NFL and domestic violence, the incremental triumphs by the LGBT, one state at a time, and the Affordable Care Act, vilified and condemned in spite of its much denied and downplayed growing contributions.
We will let the NYT, BBC or Al Jazeerah recount the Umbrella Revolution, the missing planes, or the thwarted split of Scotland from the rest of Britain, the hacking of Target and Sony, the nearly 300 young girls abducted by Boko Haram and forced into lives they never imagined. And no, I will not dwell on the hated ISIS or ISIL, who, according to the Skimm, is so vile, even Al Qaeda won’t hang out with them. Nor will I belabor the invasion of the citizenry by the NSA, but only to say that I hope Edward Snowden is all right wherever he is. And, a pox on the leakers of unauthorized celebrity photos and every pundit and blogger who perpetuated such craven depravity. Shame on you!
I would rather spend more time talking about the Ice Bucket Challenge, or Tim Cook’s breakthrough announcement, even the successful landing of the Rosetta spacecraft’s Philae probe on a Comet (called 67P).
There is also the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Prague, a cry for democracy when Czechoslovakia was still frightfully communist. In all the crusade for democracy, the John Lennon Wall stood as a steadfast symbol for anti-communist calls. The literal white-washing of the wall by an anonymous group of miscreants only galvanized people to keep the wall going. The wall is NEVER over. (See the photos of the wall in different times here.)
And then there is Sandra, the shy orangutan resident of the Buenos Aires Zoo for the last 20 years, who through the intercession of animal rights groups, has won her right as a “non-human person,” to live her life in quiet seclusion somewhere in Brazil.
There are two things I have come to understand and embrace, finally, in all their meaning and implications. One is that I have learned to let go of a lot of things over the recent years. And this is with the calm requited revelation of my own limitations. I am not god. There are things I cannot change, no matter what I do. I have had many occasions to witness this, most importantly in other people, some of whom are my own family. They agonize and stress over what cannot or will not be or what in their eyes, should be. And they continue to argue and force the issue, which only drives the possibility of what they want further away from becoming a reality. Also, in so doing, they alienate the very people they care most about. What purpose could these convictions possibly serve then?
I am reminded of a saying that I have heard from the wise. It begins something like, “Grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change,….” If more people lived this, maybe there would not be so many miserable people around?
The other is that all of us, with not much exception, can choose joy. We can choose to be happy. Joy and happiness, they are a choice. We need to choose it if we want it. We need to purposefully seek it out and live it. It’s sad that I see many people around me, again, some in my own family, who go about their day with a scowl, with their negativity hanging over them like Pigpen with his dust cloud around him. With some people I know, it has become their default countenance, their go-to mood and it has become comfortable to be prickly. And, they wonder why they are so unhappy, or why people avoid them.
I look forward to 2015 with eyes wide open, arms outstretched. Here is to more adventures, to appreciating more beauty in the world, and to seeing the human spirit shine in even the smallest of acts.