Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy New Year (belatedly)

I may seem a little behind here, but I am still thinking about the New Year and what it might mean for me and everyone else.

I received one inkling that 2011 might be a bit different when No. 1 son telephoned early on New Year's Eve to announce he would be unavailable for our traditional call just after midnight because he'd be at work, waiting in the shadows, to seize any illegal guns the bad guys might be shooting off to celebrate the new year.

This news was a bit unnerving on several levels, not the least of which was the realization that he likely would be trying to remove a weapon from a criminal who already had his gun out, loaded and firing. I immediately retreated to the Land of Denial, and said, "OK, thanks for calling and be safe." Then I tried not to think about this news as I returned to my volunteer duties at First Night, which involved checking buttons to make sure no freeloaders attempted to infiltrate the maritime music venue. Buttons vs. illegal guns. Perspective is everything.

Fortunately, No. 2 son was available and actually answered his cell phone at a party in Philadelphia, so at least there was some tradition left as we entered 2011. And in a far more annoying annual ritual, the amateurs are back at my gym, taking over my favorite exercise machines in their doomed attempts to attain health and fitness. It makes me want to just look them in the eye and say, "You know this won't last, so why not just give it up now -- and give me back my machine?" But I'm just biding my time, secure in the knowledge that all their good intentions will disappear soon and I'll have my routine and a less-crowded gym again.

But this year I also enjoyed a New Year activity that I wouldn't mind seeing become an annual tradition. I joined six other women last weekend in a fun ritual designed to rid ourselves of negatives from 2010 and replace them with our wishes and hopes for 2011.

Not only was this a delightful new perspective on New Year's resolutions for me, it was a positive reminder of the power of words. Energized by good food and wine, we each wrote our 2010 negatives on small pieces of colorful paper and then three them into a roaring fire. By writing down these feelings, incidents or names of people --- and then destroying them -- we were able to use words to symbolically bring closure to the past year so we could move freely into the new one. As a writer, I revere words -- and what they can convey, how they are able to inspire us, and the stories they can tell. But I never thought burning them might be an act of hope.

Next, we listed our wishes and desires for 2011 on lovely notepaper to be carried in "pretty little purses" throughout the year. My colorful Chinese brocade bag now holds 17 wishes for 2011 and yes, "finish my book" is one of them. But I also wrote "live with joy," "imagine the possibilities," and "count my blessings." And I am hopeful that this act of cherishing my 2011 wishes and desires by recording them (and carrying them in a "pretty little purse") will help them come true.

I did some "Google" searching so I could share a few pithy quotes that were more literary than I am capable of producing about the importance of words in our lives. I liked this one by Charles Capps:

Words are the most powerful thing in the universe... Words are containers. They contain faith, or fear, and they produce after their kind."

Do you believe in the power of words? Which ones would be on your list of wishes for 2011? Do you believe that writing them down can help them become reality?

1 comment:

MaxWriter said...

What a wonderful new tradition, Pat! I will keep that in mind for next year. I think writing down one's wishes is powerful - in fact, I already have the little Asian bag, so that's my project for tonight. I think it serves as a reminder, and you can physically open the bag and get them out in July for a refresher.