Sitting here in London on a dreary Christmas morning, my wife and I lingering in bed reading and writing and studying, I figured it was as good a time as any to jot some notes as the end of the year approaches. By way of background, we don’t have a Christmas tree or lights strewn through the house. We had a nice dinner last night that we cooked together; presumably another tonight. We are recovering from colds and will more than likely be domesticated today. We do not have children, so we slept in. All in all, a normal day.
I painted that little picture to set up my life as full of love (my wife’s, mostly), but noticeably absent in ritual (Christmas et al). I consider this lack of ritual a byproduct of my life as expat, a perpetual tourist (although I prefer traveler). Always, and I mean always, just passing through. Life gets stripped bare and rituals seem constructed, almost artificial in a way. But as you age, that construction doesn’t bother you as much and sometimes you long to participate. I suppose that is what I feel at the moment. Not a bad longing by any stretch of the imagination, just a good reminder that I can do better in 2013. Participate a bit more; engage the rituals that I have forsaken for so long.
Traveling structures your worldview, your engagement with a place. You expect to be on the outside looking in; in fact, you have taken great comfort in that position. And ten years abroad has certainly shaped me and my engagement with the world in general. So, perhaps 2013 will see that change a bit; perhaps it won’t. I just would like to advance the notion that I am ready if indeed the opportunity presents itself.
And I hope the opportunity presents itself to all of you, in whatever capacity you long for. I hope 2013 is a joy to behold, formative, progressive. I hope your love for and engagement with this world and its people continues to deepen and mature. I hope that we see each other somewhere out there, wherever our paths cross. So much so, I am willing to embed a song here, “Rainbow Connection” (yes, the Muppets) as done by Weezer. I enjoy the track and thought you might like it as well. And I dare you to find another post that tries to match the Muppets with the authors of the subsequent quotes.
I wanted to leave with a few quotes that have offered me some wisdom and solace over the last year, which by all accounts was a relatively good year. I transitioned roles from professional to student, from manager to researcher, from passive to active participant in the creation of ‘things’. I see these trends broadening a bit in 2013 as I grow into comfort with these shifts. These shifts influenced the selection of these quotes (in case you were wondering where I was going):
I will not be just a tourist in the world of images, just watching images passing by which I cannot live in, make love to, possess as permanent sources of joy and ecstasy. -Anais Nin
Knowledge about life is one thing; effective occupation of a place in life, with its dynamic currents passing through your being, is another. -William James
It belongs to the imperfection of everything human that man can only attain his desire by passing through its opposite. -Soren Kierkegaard
Most of these are about change and desire (and I disagree with Nin; possession has nothing to do with joy), weathering the tumultuous present for a clearer, more productive, more satisfying tomorrow. But these last two are about dreaming and progressing and how these intersect in happiness. I think they are perfectly apt for times of great change, at least for me, as they acknowledge that we are happiest in motion. Not a restless, random type of perpetual activity, darting here or there on a whim, but rather a deliberate, considered movement towards growth and development. Of ourselves, of others, of this world. My favorite poet, Yeats has provided me this type of sanctuary since I was in high school. And now as 2013 beckons, he is doling out wisdom again. Two separate quotes, which I am lumping together as they naturally cascade into one another. All my best, everyone. May 2013 bring you nothing but motion, growth, and happiness.
Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth, We are happy when we are growing. -William Butler Yeats
In dreams begin responsibilities.-William Butler Yeats