December 21, 2014

New Year’s Advice from a 98-Year-Old Great Grandmother.

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One soft wintery morning, my grandmother glanced at me, with a calm and knowing fire in her eyes.

She told me that a new year was approaching, and this meant “we had better get on with ‘even better’ times than the year before.”

Looking up from the green of her garden overgrown, I asked her if we should write some resolutions, while she glided along the rays of a December sun that spilled effortlessly over her eyes.

With the look of years long past and the heart strums of a young girl, she said,

“Resolutions are meant for those who have resolved not to adventure into the light.”

So here I am, leaning back into the worn fabric of her favorite chair, gleaming upon her memories of 100 years when she only looked forward and never back.

Though she is no longer with us in the physical sense, with her scented lavender hair and soft lilting voice, her presence is everlasting, especially as the year comes to a close and another unsung year awaits us. 

In her spirit, I have written the words that spring eternal from her soul, just for you and for me. You see, I know her steady hands, her flirtatious gaze and how she might have told us all how to mine silent and brave along the core.

I can still feel the energy of her childhood, when she traveled towards the West and past the Dust Bowl to engage a better life, and so that I may be born one day and write this very passage, all spent and flushed with the youth of remembrance.

Right about now, she might say…

Forgive yourself for this year, for all of your transgressions and seeming failures. Because you are alive, they are all miracles for you.

Part of you is better for it, and “all of you” is lovelier still, even for what you “thought” you failed…even for those you felt you assailed…

These experiences have made you more whole, and not less, as you wonder endlessly about who you are.

Because ‘Who You Are’ is miraculous, especially the adventuresome wanderer who gets caught in the fray, feeling lost and forbidden and alone.

You are still here, another year older, another moment more beautiful and aged, and yet more youthful than ever before.

This year you also sailed brilliantly along the curves, don’t you recall?

You sang songs you did not even know upon life’s wandering voyage, and the intricate memories of a life well traveled. You were brilliant not only once or twice, but many more.

Be still instead, in this wintry glow that subsides, if only for a moment now.

No resolutions should bask, for a life bursting with more life, for a world of bewilderment and moments left unsaid and more cherished, your time is all worth knowing.

For all of the years forward, live them wildly.

Oh passion-filled days, all steadfast and young, know that the next year will surpass all others, because it is new, and because it will be filled with moments that will remain unspoken of harsh and light, right along with your steady heart.

The month before she passed away, my grandmother began to greet me at each visit at her round windswept door with photos, newspaper clippings and stories she had handwritten about our family’s enchanted and stormy history.

In her hands she clutched yellowed anthologies, diary entries and stories about her own parents who fought the battles of weary struggles, so that we could all live a brighter day and sleep through hundreds of new years without peril or strife.

I am looking at the pile of papers right now, as my grandmother sits slightly near in memory and hope, with a gleam of gentle in her pose, and I am grateful to her for all of the wisdom of forbearance and idealism she inspired in me, in my children and for generations to come.

We can give ourselves a gift this year: to live the life of wonder.

Stare silently into the sky and wish for nothing but everything imaginable, everything we could not possibly imagine or see.

Forgive wishes and proclamations of this past year and may you want only to bask in the glow of “not knowing.”

And in the sheer madness of all that is both impossible and possible—because we are willing to close our eyes in abandonment and joy, if only for a sunrise or sunset of innocence and breadth.

When we allow ourselves the sweetness of now, we may have all of the adventures that life has to offer in the coming year—if we are so fortunate as to have one.

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