Saturday, February 9, 2013

Burning the Old Year

Poet Naomi Shihab Nye writes "Where there was something and suddenly isn't,/ an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space./ I begin again with the smallest of numbers" ("Burning the Old Year," from her collection Words Under the Words: Selected Poems). A month into 2013, and I can feel the difference in this new year; the things that seemed so stressful or incredibly demanding of my attention-- now barely an afterthought, like old papers burned in a heap. I don't often feel that January need to cast off the old in a grand spring cleaning or start climbing the mountain of resolution; but I turned thirty on the fall; I did a little dating in the fall, too; I had a few encounters that led to a release of some major expectations I've had for life, for people. And this winter the image of paper sticks with me; Nye writes: "so much of any year is flammable." Much of the physical part of my life exists in piles of paper: student essays; bills; angry demands left by my angry-basement tenant; letters; reminders; lists; half-finished projects; programs; old scripts. Sitting firmly in February 2013, the paper of 2012 seems far away, as well as the events each piece represents. But in this E-LAND of ours, there's something lovely in a stack of actual paper; lately I've found myself in the midst of a few editing projects for writer friends, and there's something precious in the stack of paper, bound, and folded between piles of 10th grade essays and textbooks in my bag.

All this to say, I think I'm having a NEW YEAR, and burning the old. I was editing a friend's memoir this week, and in it he talks about "reframing;" when life looks different than expected, when things disappoint-- "reframing" is a reshaping of convictions or certainties when they no longer correspond with the reality you might be experiencing for some reason or another; but there's something brave in not rejecting those certainties outright, but maybe just considering that you've encased them in the wrong framework.

There's a lot to consider reframing right now:  what I always thought the future would hold; thoughts on faith and God; who I want to be when I grow up; what relationships of all varieties can and do mean to me.

I came across this C.S. Lewis quote today: "Thirty was so strange for me. I've really had to come to terms with the fact that I am now a walking and talking adult." Weird to think of the Old Professor at thirty... I think I've been walking and talking as an adult for a while now, but I could use a new place to go, some new words to say.


1 comment:

Max Perkins said...

I like this! I didn't even know you had a blog, Ash. You have a new follower!