Welcome to the one and (sadly) only December post. I took a BIG test December 5th. I've been simultaneously working on applications, editing the True Blood book (urgh...), running my home, prepping for not just one but TWO holidays , hosting family visits, and helping people I hope to one day call my "friends" with a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant proposal. There's more, of course, always more but it's not something I may yet share.
In the midst of all this craziness, I am still grieving the loss of my grandmother; her "shloshim" or 30-day anniversary of her burial, was December 17th. It has not been easy to live without my grandmother aka "Grams." Every Sunday, I go to pick up the phone and call her for our weekly phone "visits." The problem is, of course, that's no longer possible. After something terrible, wonderful, or even mundane occurs, my first thought is often "Oh, I better tell Grams about this...see what she says...,." My brain and body have not yet adjusted to my grandmother's physical absence. Now, try doing everything I listed in the first paragraph combined with what I just described, and see what happens. I can tell you, my friends, it is "nitsch geet" or "not good," as my grandmother would say.
And I've needed Grams's advice a lot this month.
What always manages to amaze me, professionally as well as personally, is how most people lack compassion for others--especially when an individual is reaching the bottom. The people I felt closest to me, friends and relatives alike, have turned off their sensitivity buttons. The tagline for December seems to be that it's simultaneously the happiest and saddest time of the year. But I'm quite fatigued of ALWAYS being the "better" person, ALWAYS "turning the other cheek," giving the misguided "passes" on bad behavior, a general lack of decorum, or an absent sensibility toward equity. Perhaps this is part of my drive toward the law. The law is not always treated like an absolute, and it can be ammended to evolve, to grow, with our times. But the beautiful thing about law is that it stands clearly--it can be interpreted differently by different people, but that's why there are precedents--guidelines based on previous experience. The law , for me, is the bringer of order amongst total chaos. Like all human constructs, though, the law can be twisted for misuse.
I suppose there is no silver lining this time. The best I can say is that no matter what you face this month, whether happy or sad people, those who are insensitive and those who try to draw you into their misery, remember who YOU are. As Shakespeare recomnmended through his character, Polonius, "To thine own self be true...." For really, who else can you be true to? Oscar Wilde had a great quote about being yourself because everyone else is taken. Another good thought amongst the confusion of December's innate dualism.
My best wish for all of you out there is to look toward 2010 with a mindful eye, seeking those connections we otherwise ignore and working not toward self-improvement through the forced submission of others, but reaching beyond the old limits of your humanity to an enlightened space where the very thin webbing that connects each life to another's is more apparent to you every day.
I had losses in 2009 that are too numerous and powerful to mention; I also had tremendous gains. Failure paves the way to ultimate success in human-life. I sometimes worry I'm at a crosstoads, taking the wrong path. But when I remember who I am, not how others perceive me, not how others want me to be, I also remember there is no "wrong" path. A journey is like that--you just go, you have an idea of where you're going and how you may end up there--but you can't anticipate the events that will take place along the way. And while some events are more difficult to process than others, like losing a loved one or facing a professional death, if we remember who we are, we will sustain that sense of destiny, that sense of connection. We will also be able to find the positives more easily--those things that soften the inevitable difficulties and help to "light" our path as we continue forward...one foot in front of the other.