I love new notebooks, fresh coats of paint and I love bridges. I let myself indulgently roll around the nostalgia of the last page of a good book, too.
The last day of a year and the first day of the next one offer all of these to me.
A long time ago, I liked crossing the bridge loudly. Jumping up and down, hugging, dancing, and giving a raucous welcome to this new friend I had yet to meet. Receiving it as though it was about to become my very best companion, still full of mystery, sure to be hiding many extravagant and delightful gifts in its shiny overcoat.
As a teenager, I would have an eye on the clock, from whichever party I was celebrating, to call my parents at exactly midnight.
Uncharacteristically for them, they would be staying up until midnight (but not many more minutes past midnight), in bed watching the NY Big Apple fall from a tall building. There would be fancy plates on their beds, filled with smoked salmon, perfectly toasted bread, and some rich French paté. Just the two of them. They loved receiving my call and I loved making it. We wished each other all kinds of good things and then they would go to sleep while I would dance several more hours.
The years passed, they moved themselves and their family to the same side of the Atlantic as the Big Apple, I grew up, and my loud New Year’s Eves started to feel less and less joyful.
I felt weird about that.
Eventually, I decided that feeling weird was less uncomfortable than feeling inauthentic and in 2000, as we were about to cross a big bridge, I allowed myself to sit comfortably in the middle of it while I meditated through its crossing.
From then on, that’s how I have celebrated the turning of the page, eventually extending the experience to include pretty much the full last day of the year and the full first day of the new one.
Quietly, often by myself and in deep celebration.
Being the Capricorn that I am, on the 31st, I am compelled to tidy up all kinds of loose ends, including my closets and my finances. Getting ready to welcome a special guest, I make sure there are no dust bunnies lurking in the corners of my mind or home.
Getting ready to say goodbye to an intimate companion, I make sure to acknowledge our time together, give my thanks, and harvest the lessons it brought. I often write it a Letter.
Then, as the one hour in between, the magical isthmus, arrives, I settle my body somewhere beautiful, light some candles, and close my eyes, ready to slide across the bridge with light in my heart.
This year, this is how it went:
On the 31st, as I was getting re-acquainted with my life here having just returned from a deeply sweet week in the comfort of the United States and the love of my family, while cleaning my closets and closing my accounting books, I was very aware that the contents of my Letter were organizing themselves, creating a draft of sorts, knowing that I would get to them soon once my mind was ready. As a writer, this is a process I am familiar with and which I cherish.
That time came, with a pile of giveaway clothes on the patio, a cup of steaming hot tea near me, I was prepared to sit down and commune with the harvest.
What a sweet year 2023 has been. With of course, enough bitter to make the sweetness pop.
As I scanned the Container of the past 12 months, I saw that they delivered me three distinct and so very beautifully intertwined Gifts:
The Gift of Love
The Gift of Healing
The Gift of Creating
These are enormous and while each one both started and completed its cycle within the year, I knew that they were also going to walk across the bridge with me, and that we would continue to dance together in a new, yet unknown, way.
The three Gifts are magnificent, separately and together.
Life-changing and everlasting.
I know that I will carry the Essence of each one until the end of my life.
In the stillness of my body, having done all the doing I wanted to do, I let the bigness in all the way. The thankfulness swam through my bloodstream and flooded my heart. Some of it overflowed out of my eyes. I think this is the first year this has happened to me at this level, this clarity, this giant wave.
The more I could see The Bridge, the deeper in love I fell with this side of it.
And the more I fell in love with it and its sweetness, the more I dared to let myself get close to its bitterness, too. The fear it invited, the ache, the helplessness. As someone I treasure says: the sugar and the salt. The salt stings.
By the time night arrived, I was ready to cross.
Because Life likes to surprise us and show us new, often better ways to do things, a friend was camping on my land, each one of us seeped in our own celebration together and separate. The last Gift of the year, this reminder that yes, privacy can dance with togetherness. Safely. A Gift I now know I needed to take with me.
Candles were lit, “keep-your-dog-calm-through-the-fireworks” YouTube playlist music was wafting through the speaker, and I settled my body and mind, ready for the big little trip. I flinched each time my neighbors turned the jungle into a loud celebratory explosion, remembering that we all like to cross the bridge in our own way.
Soon we were on the other side. The unknown other side. The blank page.
The expanse and deep breathing.
Here in the jungle, my friend and I shared tea and butter cookies, and friendship ease. Throughout the day, she napped in her tent and I wrote on the patio, both of our pups going back and forth. Nature all around whispering its own welcome.
Love. Healing. Creating.
The salt, too.
SCARED OF THE SACRED