Friday, January 01, 2016

The Challenge of the Second Day

...and the third, the fourth, and everything else that doesn’t have the shiny gleam of being “the first.”

Like most people, I overindulged on New Year’s Eve. It was glorious. The clouds cleared in time for the fireworks to be launched from Pikes Peak at midnight. There was much illegal booming and crackling throughout my neighborhood until 12:15. In between noodling on my latest manuscript, I was up drinking and singing along to my music clear until 5 a.m.

Crawling out of bed at half-past noon on New Year’s Day, I felt quite forcibly reminded of why one of my resolutions is to back away from the alcohol this year. (I’m giving myself this weekend to blow it out, and then going dry until the 31st. Among other things, beer is inimical to weight loss programs.) My planned regimen of push-ups and jumping jacks wasn’t happening. I did manage to get out and take a walk, though. 

I took some photos, too, as always. Here’s a happy snap of a tumbleweed in the snow in the late New Year’s Day 2016 light. It’s a sweet, existential little tableau as one only sees out West.

The ice in the drainage canal is thawing after a solid week of high temperatures never rising out of the 20s Fahrenheit. We’re looking forward to a break from the sub-freezing cold this first week. It’s warm and raining and flooded in the Carolinas where we’re supposed to be moving this year. Oh, if we could just move a little further north up the road from where we are now, and bring in enough money for long visits back East! My next book needs to be really good, and really, really popular...meanwhile....

I took many others, but two photos in particular stand out as a lesson in perspective regarding this most difficult season, this long, “dead” month of nothing following four months of steadily building excitement, from the charge of Things Beginning that comes with the first weeks of the new school year, then Labor Day weekend, then football, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

We have four months, a full third of the year in which we hear a steady drumbeat in the socio-cultural background. Something is always coming. You’ve gotta get ready, you’ve always “gotta get” something. Gotta get your Halloween costume and candy, gotta get your Thanksgiving turkey, gotta get your Christmas shopping done. 

And the parties! So many parties, so many celebrations, big plates of food and glasses clinking all around. It all goes up in fifteen minutes of fireworks after midnight on New Year’s Eve. At least we have the weekend this year until everything gets back to “normal”

“Normal,” of course, is a long, cold, gray month with nothing to mark it. No Labor Day, no Halloween, no Thanksgiving, no Christmas. There are a few college bowl games no one will remember, and while the NFL teams in the USA are bashing it out for Super Bowl berths, the sad fact of the matter is that the shine is off the sport as of the Thanksgiving week college rivalries. January is just...wait a minute...what’s this?

I have often remarked that there is no light like October light. As seen above, however, January light enjoys a beauty all its own, if you know to look for it. The explosion of light and color I caught below was an especial revelation.

Does knowing this photo was taken in the late afternoon on New Year’s Day add to its beauty? 

For four months we’ve been dependent on outside factors to enjoy a full third of the year. There’s nothing wrong with that; September through December is my favorite time, too. The special days associated with each month from October through December are sacrosanct to me. But we’ve got to finesse this transition into this period where nothing is really celebrated in US culture until Memorial Day. Even Easter and Spring Break are just a break on the way to summer. We feel “left alone,” and we go along with the joke that our resolutions are all “broken” by the middle of the January. Which is another socio-cultural outside factor, and one that should be rightfully ignored.

Is it so gray and dead up there in that photo? Do I need a special holiday to make that sky a little more blue, to gild those leaves a little more golden, to add drama to the bare branches of these trees?

Likewise, do I need a special day to make those things happen for me that I need to happen? I need to lose weight and become more fit, I need to develop better time management skills, I need to be making recordings, readings, podcasts. I need to sell more books. This is not a matter of “would be nice.” This is, “Make it happen, or suffer the poverty and other attendant miseries resulting from your inaction.”

On 2 January, I’ll go at it again. What I miss will be added on 3 January. And so on, until I get this right. I’ll do those 100 push-ups a day, I will be at optimum weight by the end of February, I will have posts up on YouTube, reading classic poetry and my own books. I won’t let my blog go to cobwebs like I did in 2015. 

We lose our enthusiasm for our New Year’s resolutions because we lose enthusiasm for living in the dead of January, when nothing seems to be happening. As evidenced in my photos, the dead of January is in our minds. Get out and look around. Know that you’ve got all this time to get it together without the distractions of “gotta get.” 

Anything you gotta get isn’t because of a special day. You gotta get it for you. How is that so bad, so bland, so dead, so nothing?

This is your month. Your time. You beat the drum. You set the beat.
One down, 356 to go in leap-year 2016.

2016 will mark my last walks through this neighborhood I have to leave, somehow, some way, sometime before the next Season of Celebration. I’m going to make this as close to a daily happening until it can’t go happen anymore. If I do this right, the days will be packed, and there will be plenty to celebrate along the way.

Once more, with feeling: Happy New Year. It’s yours if you want it. Me, I’ve got a need.