A longer time away from the bog than I had expected. We’re a few weeks, already, into a whole new year.
I’ve never been much into the fanfare surrounding a turn of the calendar, but I was compelled to mark this one. Eager to call one journey quits while willing another to begin. At least, I’ve come to imagine that this is how and why others have found meaning in the tradition.
Counting down the seconds. Commemorating the witching hour. A release of tensions belonging to the year just lived. Chanting and kisses and clinking, if not also some cacophony of noise to scare away any lingering troubles of course. Instantiating some magic for a moment with a wish for blessings in those yet to come.
Good for us. We make of our opportunities for celebration whatever we are afforded, even if only between work weeks, a couple times a year. And why not?
Yet. From the first of my experiences of the conventional New Year’s Eve party, I felt myself an outsider to it’s significance. Much of ‘the holidays’ were like that. There was money to be made, custom and expectations, and great opportunities for people watching. I saw that but otherwise never could relate. Me, the would be explorer felt moreso the heretic masquerading among worshippers. In fact, I would more often choose to travel this time year. Better to sense oneself a stranger in strange lands than among our nearest or dearest. Or so I had decided to think.
But an explorer of worlds – the adventurer – is involved in other sorts of quagmires. One cannot leave a journey without anticipating the next. Cannot arrive without imagining the plight. Travellers who revel in wonder can never run out. And they are never quite prepared to depart, until left with no other option, even then forever concluding and commencing journeys. One tucked and rolled into the other. A moving along and a not-looking back.
The discoverer seeks experience and exposure and, in turn, is exposed. Stretching the limits of comprehension and adaptation. Nooks and crannies and hidden places. The excitement of unpredictability. Between and beneath and threaded from without to within. An education of another kind. What I learned afar I then applied closer and closer to home. Until, finally, I had ventured to the most remote of places without stepping foot outside my front door.
In either case, whatever the geography, getting lost on the way or while away can be part of the fun. Either way, getting lost on the return trip is… Well. Not fun.
Perhaps I should explain. Some years ago, health issues prompted me to take a new tact to my career trajectory. I would leave a place indefinitely, acquire new skills, meet back up on that trail from somewhere else. I set out to embark upon that journey. A few years later, I realized that I had taken some other and less assuring voyage. I was afloat at sea, in fact, as it seemed to me. Right ’bout this time, a couple years ago, I actualized the full extent to which my health would dictate my days. And the nativity of the decisions already made. By springtime that year a new diagnosis sent me packing.
The race to the finish line was over. But that other clock was still tick tocking.
Unpacking and repacking and then unpacking again. That’s the thing about leaving someplace indefinitely, but finding yourself nowhere familiar. There’s no where to get to and no place to go back to. There is only the stretch marks of comprehension that pull still deeper and wider with each crooking adaptation. All those nooks and crannies you’ve tripped over, or stumbled into, can frighten as much as bruise. Hidden between and beneath and threaded within each of your most vulnerable hours. But exposed. Discovery of the least favourite and most tentative kind.
Travellers. We’ve the tenacity to underestimate the value of comfort. A year in the outback, only to back-track, and double back again. Dragging one’s wretched self back to the discomfort from hence they came might be the most tumultuous journey of all. Afterall, what is already known is now also anticipated.
A frustrated adventurer and their resolve to prevail. As if clinging to a sense of agency will compensate for a state of powerlessness. As if flailing about is a form of self help. Oh and the unpredictability then is just that much unfun too. It was time to find my feet. To recount my steps. Trace the route back to the last place I’d been, and recall why I’d been there. A reorientation and bearings. Crawled back aboard that boat still afloat at sea.
All that asking and searching and deliberating. What would become of it, I marvelled, as I returned to my studies. Now then to reintegrate. How now to navigate norms and expectations I’m even less fit to live up to. No more racing for me. Can’t bring myself to watch the clock.
Re-comprise the reprise. Acknowledging the narrow scope of our own comprehensions. Respecting the limits of benefit from adaptation. We might learn when to innovate and when, instead, we should take shelter. This is how the same location becomes a new geography. How a similar quagmire can provide for a different outcome. Or so I decided to think.
A false start. Begin again. Started this blog. Finished medical treatment. Expended the last bit of my cyclical energies at the end of term, sharing good food and wine with fine friends. Went to bed.
Stayed there for a week.
First time I concluded and commenced a journey but never could fathom my plight. Even still, I cannot envision the next. Instead, I emptied and packed up the back-pack that now resides on the closet floor.
Instead, I counted down in each time zone I’ve visited. Commemorated those witching hours spent gazing up at the same stars but from this or that road, field, wood, range, valley and seaside. Honouring, too, those most remote of places I’d only just been. Timing is everything. Oh to revel in stillness and account for one’s blessings. A comfort. To release. No where and no place. Just me and my bed and our farewell to the last of all those tensions just lived.
Good for me. A toast to the would be adventurer. And why not? Gave meaning to the end and start of a whole new year.
As I now understand it: To begin, and then again, we make of our opportunities for celebration whatever we are afforded.
So. Here. I am.
And it’s already 2013. Real slow to the roll call, I know. It may be this way every now and then. The quiet spell and then a slew of as of yet inter-related materials. A rambling personal distraction from the prior, and somewhat more theoretical, threads. Part going-with-the-flow and part re-visitation, or perhaps, reflects the shift in orientation. All at risk of trying your patience, I know.
But. The re-discoverer of footfalls. Just this one following that other step forward. Here. Now. And then again. That’s the somewhere I’ve landed. That’s the where I am at.
I hope y’all have also enjoyed fulfillment of a restful and meaningful start of this new year. If not, well… Obviously, I highly recommend taking a time-out.
A quiet and comfortable pause. A departure of sorts, if only briefly, but that is not comprised of anticipations. This, in turn, prompts a necessity to restart somewhere somehow.
Hell; whenever you need to. Pause. And begin again.
Again and then yet again if you want.
And why not?