The New Year always presents us with a natural point in the busy year to take stock, reflect and perhaps plan for improvements for the coming year. This year is no different. At New Years I went for a lovely, cold, but sun-filled walk downtown Vancouver. I had intended to walk around the gorgeous Stanley Park Seawall, but on this day parts of it were closed due to ice, so I modified my adventure to take in one of my favourite haunts in Vancouver, historic Gastown. It is in Gastown where I found this sign on one of the walls of a building on Water Street. It is a sign for sure, in the literal sense. But at New Years, when you are in a reflective, receptive mood, is also A SIGN. I have walked the cobbled streets of Gastown many times and have never looked up to see this prescient admonition in bright neon. On this day, and still today, it speaks to me.
Time IS certainly precious! The trials of the past few years have taught me better than any time in my life that one must appreciate each day as it comes, warts and wonders and all. When I visited my family back home this Christmas, I actually allowed myself to relax and appreciate each moment with these very precious people. I adored visiting Mum at her new residence in Watford. We played bingo! And sang carols. I heard my Mum sing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah with a beautiful voice that I’d forgotten she had. I adored singing along with my niece and nephews on a drive home from the London train station as we belted out the best of John Denver and The Muppets (one of my most favourite Christmas albums that I didn’t know I shared with Corey, Shelby and Kyle). I loved spending time with my sister Jen and her husband Brian as we shared memories of Christmases past, this year blessed that these memories brought smiles rather than tears. There were so many treasured moments over that week that I will keep close to my heart, and will take time to gather in the year ahead as well. It is these moments that give our life meaning and our days hope and wonder.
I’m going to leave you today with a wonderful quote from artist Patti Smith. I am making my way through her memoir called M Train, which is a reflection on life beyond missing the folks that you love – Smith lost both her husband and her brother and through writing, works her way slowly beyond her grief. I’m glad to receive some kind words of wisdom that will help me approach this year ahead with patience, a touch of hope and, just maybe, a bit of much-needed grace:
“I believe in movement. I believe in that lighthearted balloon, the world. I believe in midnight and the hour of noon. But what else do I believe in? Sometimes everything. Sometimes nothing. It fluctuates like light flitting over a pond. I believe in life, which one day each of us will lose. When we are young we think we won’t, that we are different. As a child I thought I would never grow up, that I could will it so. And then I realized, quite recently, that I had crossed some line, unconsciously cloaked in the truth of my chronology. How did we get so damn old? I say to my joints, my iron-colored hair. Now I am older than my love, my departed friends. Perhaps I will live so long that the New York Public Library will be obliged to hand over the walking stick of Virginia Woolf. I would cherish it for her, and the stones in her pocket. But I would also keep on living, refusing to surrender my pen.”
May this new year gift you with hope, resilience, grace, and the gumption to never surrender your pen!