As far back as I can remember, the last day of the year has had a vibe all its own. Christmas Eve offers both joy and melancholy, depending on your age. Summer holidays and long weekends are about beaches and vacations. Like them or not, Mondays feel like no other day of the week. But New Year's Eve, at least for me, has a thickness that I have always had trouble penetrating. The last day of the year seems to beckon you to take it on, one way or another. It can be the end of something old or the beginning of something new. But unlike any other day of the year, the pressure is on. There is an almost desperate need to do something/anything on New Year's Eve that just doesn't exist on say March 3rd or October 11th.
I felt a paradigm shift in the way I approached things after 9/11. For a few months in the aftermath, I really thought I might die on my way to the corner for a container of milk. Every subway delay reeked of terrorism, but it was usually just someone holding the doors or a litter fire on the tracks. Then, of course, time flew by as it does, and by 2003, I no longer thought about it. I didn't forget what happened. I never will. I just didn't need to be reminded, as there was more life to live. I needed milk and I was going to get it.
Then, my beloved New Orleans was devastated by Katrina, and from 2005 through 2007, I felt as if it was my duty to walk in the rain without an umbrella, to stop complaining about every little discomfort and take a cue from the beautiful survivors of that flood and be thankful for what surrounded me. Resilience, at least on the outside, was important to me. "Never let'em know how you really feel," my friend would remind me a few times a year.
That died, too. And so did my business, so by 2008, I had my own type of survival.
It's been thirteen years since my business partner and I said goodbye to our shop. We rang up our last sale on Christmas Eve of 2005 and moved to an office, where we existed on mail order fumes until 2007. Occasionally, I am okay with it, until I dwell upon what we could have done to make it work. Regrets? I've had more than a few. Sorry Frank.
Ten years gone in the blink of an eye. It's now the end of 2018. This year I've dieted and lost 14 pounds. I've tried meditation to help combat the stress of everyday life. I just recently downloaded an app called "We Croak," which reminds me five times a day that we are going to die, with alerts and quotes about the importance of living. I'm making an effort, albeit with baby steps, to make myself a bit more tolerant and tolerable. I want to be less selfish. I think we can all afford to be less selfish. It's not easy.
Maybe we aren't the makers of our own fate. We can only do so much on our own. If there is one thing I hope for in 2019, aside from the usual Top 5 which includes peace on Earth, good will towards man and decent starting pitching for the Yankees, it's that we all realize that others exist in our lives. Cherish the good people around you and never assume the brave face can take care of itself. We need each other and being hopeful shouldn't be a luxury for the brave.
"Never let'em know how you really feel."
Well, that's okay in theory. But sometimes, you need to let'em know exactly how you feel. We need each other.
Let's raise a glass to hope and to everyone!
"This train carries saints and sinners
This train carries losers and winners
This train carries whores and gamblers
This train carries lost souls
I said, this train, dreams will not be thwarted
This train, faith will be rewarded
This train, hear the steel wheels singing
This train, bells of freedom ringing"
HAPPY NEW YEAR!