The last day of the first month of the New Year. At midnight newness turns into February. Another year proceeds with or without our permission.
During January’s 31 days we, a people belonging to one country, were wounded by a man’s internal demons that erupted into a public violence. His gun’s bullets brought death and disability, misunderstanding and sorrow. Tucson, Arizona is a place of beauty awash with colors provided by its natural palette. A part of the sheltering Southwest, the landscape and terrain do not suggest the imminent disruption of life. Reality does that — it surprises us individually and communally. Our daily lives are interrupted again and again. We turn around to find dreams transformed into nightmares.
Tucson’s shared healing light helped us reconnect to what matters. But as I write, Egypt is engulfed in turmoil and despair. Hope is attached to a ferocious rage. The televised reports remain in consciousness. The dreams of Egyptians are common to all people; what underlies the confrontation is the basic right to claim and be offered the opportunity for a better life, days that are filled with less suffering. We understand the desire and fundamental need to be free from deprivation and tyranny. Yet we are also frightened and confused; again we can see death, injury, and extreme acts of violence.
Psychics and political pundits predict a variety of events for the coming months of the year. I would not attempt to speculate about what’s next. Nor would I wish to do so, even if I had the visionary powers or the political knowledge.
In my city, winter came upon us harshly and relentlessly in sharp and unforgiving ways. Inside my apartment and safely upstairs, I can envision a different winter. I deceptively imagine the blizzards as soft occurrences; those images compose a private fiction. My view is one of a fresh white blanket spread over the terrace and surrounding the Stone Sage Lion. The Lion looks proudly at the snowdrifts he commands from his urban perch; it’s hardly a suitable location, even for a Stone Lion. It’s fantasy and as mythical as he is, but no less comforting to me. I watch his unchanging gaze, his unwavering attention to his post at the door. His existence makes me smile as I pretend he’s pledged enduring allegiance to the terrace, to Manhattan, to me.
Sharpness and Softness.
These are life’s eternally contradictory and combative partners. Incompatible companions but linked forever. They will never escape each other or our experience of them.
I have been wondering lately how much is left of my Forever?
It has, of course, become shorter with illness and with each birthday. The horizon line is now visible. I no longer possess the youthful illusion of an infinite life yet to be lived, an earthly eternity of time to spend. I’ve lived. I still live. But Forever moves closer to its inevitable and finite conclusion. I am unafraid. I will find ways to embrace the winter’s storms and whatever is waiting beyond them.
The end of Forever may not be terribly long from the present tense of my rhythms. It belongs to the domain of the unknowable, as it should. Because I accept this as something other than a verdict, much about my life is more meaningful. As January ends, Forever has given me its only available gift. I have been shown a timeline. Or, is it that I’ve stopped denying I can see one? The ways I choose to live and to love are easier and sweeter. I am reaching for an understanding of all that comes to and through my awareness–even this sharp-soft winter in the Year 2011.
©2011 Alida Brill, From This Terrace