As I write this, several hours of 2009 remain to be lived and experienced. Still lots of time for life-changing events to happen, big and small. Still lots of time for nothing whatsoever to happen except for the clock to tick and to tock, for the hands to move, for one minute to look and feel much like that last minute and the minute before that, too.
Thinking about one year clicking over to the next, I wondered about what other people want to do in the upcoming year and so asked a generic question that yielded thoughtful answers, all of which were good to ponder.
Then this morning, still pondering, I rummaged through a box of wonderfully rummageable stuff and found five fabulous spools of thread on old wooden spools. And then…I had a thought. Before thinking about the upcoming year, perhaps it might help to sit down with this year, to decide what I will take with me into the year ahead, to look at the warp and weft threads weaving the ever-changing tapestry of my life.
I’d taken the spools of thread, all tangled up, to my other desk and set about untangling the ends that had wound themselves around other loose ends, shaking my head at me, putting things away and forgetting about them. It suggested to me that I needed to go into this new year a bit more consciously. And that can only happen by looking over the past year.
There, I said it. Looking at the past. Let me say this about that: looking into the past can be good. Living in the past is not. Big difference. The past is not the present. And the present is not the future. You do know that definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome? Was I doing that? Same scene, same script, different players? Was I better at the end of the year than at the beginning? Had I changed? I needed to do a retrospective of my personal 2009.
In art, retrospectives are a good way to get an overall sense of an artist and her work, either in a certain time period, or over an entire lifetime. Broadly speaking, a retrospective contemplates the circumstances and events surrounding the artist for that time and works being exhibited. A retrospective allows for some understanding. THAT I wanted.
I needed a filter and chose a question: what has helped me grow? With that question, I gathered up the tapestry threads and reviewed each one.
It was a challenging, tough year in some ways, and amazing, breathtakingly incredible in other ways. Doing a retrospective showed there is SO much to be thankful for and so much to work toward. And it helped me to hone in on what to take along for the journey into the new year and what to leave behind.
The Threads of Love, of Friendship, of Family. This year was like no other. Nourishing. Maddening. Arousing. Life enhancing. Forehead to forehead. Fingers laced together. Big hugs. Feasts in foreign lands. Slouch on the couch for movies and conversation. Sisters. Brother. My hero aunt. Friends to cook and share food with. Wedding showers, baby showers. Reconnecting. Love, friendship and family, all full of grace, consternation, sharing and wonder. Of being grateful for who is in my life and what is shared. No matter my silence, no matter how far away, no matter how long between an exchange of thought and time and more, no matter the inadequacy of words to define these threads, they are quietly, gently held and fiercely cherished.
The Threads of Life and of Daily Living. This year new babies came into the family. There was also forever goodbyes to people and pets. Support and hugs to friends in crazy custody battles and crazy work situations. Babysitting. Cat sitting. Fish sitting. Travels to dog parks across the city and talks with dog owners. Dog hugs. Deadlines. Long-distance earnest conversations with friends who’ve moved away. Brief emails to say hello. Completion of the kitchen renovation! And dust for days and days. Of finding out I am allergic to dust. Of yoga and working out, of walks along the boardwalk and ducking birds: wait those aren’t birds they’re BATS!! Of dark chocolate chili gelato, now available in Toronto; of trips and travels and neighbours. Of a bird who is Charlie Chaplin reincarnate and a dog who is my co-pilot. Of morning espresso. These threads are core, inherently necessary and sustain mind, body, heart and soul.
The Threads of Exploring, of Experiment, of Expression, of Energy and Balance. I was born with these threads held tight in my hand. But I have been quiet and private about it. These threads are colour. Sound. Words. Feelings. Emotions. Music. Art. Body. Senses. Of continuing to be fully in the world. Of laughing. Of sharing winding, meandering talks. Of listening to and feeling hearts. Of discovery and excitement. Of learning and of not-knowing. Of being. These threads stay.
The Thread of Boundaries. This thread is about how close, how far, who and when and about what? It’s about working to maintain a healthy sense self. (noting that self in yoga and Buddhist traditions does not actually exist and is itself the root cause of much grief). This is a tricky thread that pops in and out of my tapestry, sometimes as a cord, but necessary. The notion of a ‘bad’ person is something I find disturbing, yet this past year I learned — again — that a few people in this world are entirely selfish and they will use, manipulate anyone and everything to get what they want and not care. The internal neon sign will flash: Danger. Do Not Engage! This thread is permeable; open and out to good, barrier and closed to bad.
The Knotted Ends
The Thread of Worries. This thread was in my other hand at birth, also tightly held. I have in truth been working on this for a while. Each year I worry a little less about some things. Since worrying actually never solves anything, I do not want to waste time worrying. I’m looking through the knot book for the best one to use that will close this one off once and for all.
In 2009, more people came into — and back into — my life than I would have thought possible and perhaps wanted. I might have spent a moment struggling with that, but ended the year knowing that connection is what gives life its flavours and colours and joys and sorrows: and it is good to not always do what I have always done.
And so, my retrospective is complete. The threads are sorted and ready to capture the experiences of the year as they happen, weaving images into my tapestry.
All that’s needed now is to kiss 2009 on each cheek and whisper goodbye, and to welcome 2010. Let the weaving continue.
PS: Have a spectacular, safe and fulfilling 2010.