Happy New Year

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Auld Lang Syne for unforgettable friends and acquaintances, plus a certain reverie for personal experience, all take on a richer, sometimes sad or now settled “what might have been” quality with age, but that’s not our original discovery. It lived in recognition among the ancient Greeks.

As humans, we have the capacity to grieve over anything. From what is now done and gone forever, we may grieve. But we may also grieve for all those things we once valued that were either never done – or left alone and unfulfilled.

These are the stuff, including the people involved, that are the producers of Auld Lang Syne. What we did, and didn’t do; whom we engaged as mates and partners in any life mission; and those we separated from, for reason or whim – all of these  are the fodder for our personal Auld Lang Syne.

And so our personal Auld Lang Syne rests within each of us as either the seed of wisdom that blooms over time – or sadly, if it is not absorbed, it becomes a major missed golden opportunity for those who never do get it. The absence of wisdom gained from personal experience is the major tax on those who live by the “Ignorance is Bliss” adage.

In fact, the tax on our rejection of the lessons from painful experience is to live in a state of redundancy, going through the same painful experience repeatedly over time for as long as we refuse the lesson –  or until we either get the lesson and make changes – or grow broke, mad, or die from the experience of avoidance.

We don’t like to think about this sort of thing, especially  on New Years Eve, but it is what it is. It’s with us as the driving wheel in our repetition of any pattern of similar disappointing consequence which fails us  as a teacher of the lesson it carries.

Behind every resolution we make at the new year is the energy we have used in the past to avoid the thing we now say we want to change.

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The other day, St. Thomas friend and author Rob Sangster sent me “The Meeting,” a lesser known poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. This work by an iconic 19th century American poet implicitly personifies how aging too may inspire and enrich our appreciation for both the things our minds tell us that we did and did not do with our lives.

Our memories of “experiences fulfilled” and “experiences missed” work together to shape our abilities for greeting the new year on some level of peace with ourselves – or not.

In the end, as Longfellow describes it, it’s hard for us to distinguish the ghosts from the guests among our reverie ~ “and a mist and shadow of sadness steals over our merriest jests.”

The Meeting

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

After so long an absence
At last we meet again:
Does the meeting give us pleasure,
Or does it give us pain?

The tree of life has been shaken,
And but few of us linger now,
Like the Prophet’s two or three berries
In the top of the uttermost bough.

We cordially greet each other
In the old, familiar tone;
And we think, though we do not say it,
How old and gray he is grown!

We speak of a Merry Christmas
And many a Happy New Year
But each in his heart is thinking
Of those that are not here.

We speak of friends and their fortunes,
And of what they did and said,
Till the dead alone seem living,
And the living alone seem dead.

And at last we hardly distinguish
Between the ghosts and the guests;

And a mist and shadow of sadness
Steals over our merriest jests.

____________________

Happy New Year, Everybody!

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One Response to “Happy New Year”

  1. gregclucas Says:

    Happy New Year to all McCurdys… The “Happy” part got off to a good start with that impressive Cougar football win. Now you can dig into whatever the basketball team is doing? What IS it doing? Another victim of Houston “footballitis” I guess.

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