December 31, 2014 in Travelogue
I have a confession to make: I did not write a Christmas letter
This is the first year in almost twenty that I haven’t. I can’t quite articulate why. What comes to mind is that I have nothing to say; but of course that’s not true, is it? A lot has happened this year, from the young people getting driver’s licensed, to solo journeys in America and Europe for many of us, to a cruise to Alaska, a criss-cross of North America, and a winter on our favourite lago. I just didn’t. Maybe it’s more that it feels like a retelling of the year’s news doesn’t adequately capture the life in the time. If you’re disappointed, I apologize; I’ll try to do better next year.
If you really want to recap the year’s highlights, Miller style, then here’s a story from each month:
- January: In which we find ourselves home again, in New Hampshire
- February: A snapshot of how we spent many Friday nights: The Mill
- March: Six things from six years traveling
- April: A lesson Roger taught me on putting down heavy things, like coffee cups
- May: On Mother’s Day, death & letting go
- June: In which I celebrate a lack of pain on the Camino de Santiago
- July: Walking the Camino is the most worthwhile thing I’ve ever done for myself.
- August: On visiting the American west & some things I think about
- September: It’s hard for me to write in the mid-west… it just is
- October: Canada decided that I was dead… mostly
- November: What it’s like to wake up on the Lago
- December: In which we celebrate the last Christmas with all of our kids living at home
That’s pretty much our year.
In two days it will be next year… that’s always a weird feeling.
I’ve never been one for resolutions, but I do always set an intention for the New Year, something to focus my energy on cultivating. I’ve been considering what that will be for the coming year. I’m leaning towards the affirmation of Embracing Change. That seems to be a good commitment to make on a year that I know will hold the launch of one, if not two of my children, a turn away from full time travel towards building a base to call home, shifting countries of primary legal residence, a serious push towards the development of my own career interests, and doing some of the things that matter most to me personally.
I’ve always loved the Buddhist metaphor of life being like a fast flowing river: we can’t step into the same river twice. It’s always new. Always changing. Continually containing things that it did not the last time we stepped there. I’ve felt that more recently than I ever have before. Sometimes it’s scary, but it’s also exciting.
In retrospect, this year’s lesson has been: Accepting what is.
In a thousand ways my world has taught and retaught that concept. It wasn’t until I found myself in the middle of Spain listening to a chapel full of Gregorian monks chant vespers that I finally got it. Like, really got it. The lesson was in decaying flower petals on an ancient stone floor, the intoxicating scent of candle wax and incense, the generations of continuity in the latin verse, and the soul jarring interruption of a cell phone alarm announcing, “Remember to get the milk!” stripping away all of the illusions. Accepting what is. What a lovely concept to wake to. A place of peace and freedom. At once a responsibility and a liberation.
And so here we sit, on the precipice of 2015, dangling our toes over the abyss, wondering aloud what the leap will hold.
I hope your year’s end finds you as optimistic as I am about what’s just over the horizon. I hope the world is teaching you the lessons you need as well. I hope the people you join hands and walk with match your stride and sing with you when it’s raining. I hope there are fireworks in your world this year, and not just for New Year’s Eve. I hope your path leads you to all of the best places that you never knew you wanted to go; at home and abroad. I hope the year brings you the essence of what your heart longs for and the very best of the unexpected. If you, like me, are whispering an intention to the moon at midnight, and you want to share it here, it would be fun to compare notes as the year carries us forward together.
Happy New Year