Happy New Year.
2009 is here, and at the risk of sounding pessimistic, things look dark.
Half-emptiness isn't my intent, though. Things really do look dark here... it's nearly 1AM.
Yes, you read that right. It's not even an hour past Midnight, and I'm already in my bed blogging away. Celebrations were limited for me tonight. I didn't make it anywhere too enthralling like the NYC-style, over-crowded Taipei 101, and the bar-parties aren't exactly my scene. Oh well. The New Year welcomes itself with or without Celebration. I had a great dinner with my Taiwanese Family, and spent the first few minutes of the New Year holding a four-year old on my shoulders so she could see the fireworks through the buildings obscuring our viewing spot on the Porch at the top of our 5-story condo/home.
Another reason I didn't go out? It was a bit moist tonight. I heard Taipei was rained out. It showered lightly, on and off throughout today, here in Taichung.
The New Year's Reflections always seem to bring out this Introspective Aspiration Monster that reeks with the stench of Melancholy. That's how you know it. You can smell the Melancholy for days.
Bally and 24hr Fitness love this Monster. Jenny Craig and Anthony Robbins prey on it.
No matter how many times its struck down, it seems to come back. Year in. Year out.
This Monster takes different forms for different people, but it's there nonetheless. Monster Melancholy hit me twice today. Once when I was listening to Louis Armstrong. It was just a small blip of a thought, but I felt as though my mind turned around to take a second look. "He's gone. He's not on earth anymore." I've been lucky enough to have never been intimately acquainted with Death thus far, so I have no idea why the thought of Louis Armstrong's death -- 30+ years postmortem, mind you -- hit me hard enough to stop my racing mind in its tracks. "He's gone. He's not coming back. He'll never contribute anything new to the world of music. Never give contemporary commentary on this Wonderful World." I still don't know where the strength of that thought came from and can only cite it as proof of the existence of Monster Melancholy.
Its second attack was through the weather. Particularly sub-par weather evokes Monster Melancholy like a rain dance brings the rain. But a subdued New Year's Celebration on a day of sub-par weather are elements that converge and formed that Perfect Storm of Introspective Aspiration; leaving your very clothing soaked in that stench no parka could save you from.
But there's something special about that Perfect Storm. Something Redemptive in New Year's Eve. Something Forgiving. There's a phrase in a song that uses the metaphor "Grace like Rain." My thoughts tuned to this song all throughout today as the droplets struck my beanie and scarf and jacket-clad shoulders. There's beauty in a hard rain that can wash the grime and filth from your shirt and shoes (and shoulders and scarves and beanies...).
The New Year is like that. A few lights, some cheers, and we embrace a new age. We get another 'round the sun. 2008 is gone in all its glory and grime, and it's not coming back. Washed away. Sealed in history, never to contribute any more to our life-story.
But we get a New Year; a new Chapter in our life-story. Another chance.
"The Sun rises for the good and the evil ... and the rain falls on the just and unjust." The New Year comes for the rich and the poor; the ones who celebrate lavishly, and those who don't know any better. The field of Grace is level. There are no buildings to peer around or over. You don't have to steal a glance. It's there if you want it.
The Story of Redemption is all around us. Everyday, a secret in front of our face. I'm learning to look for it and truly value it more than all else. Maybe this means less failures, and less grime... but then again, maybe in a way, embracing Redemption means admitting you're dirtier than you thought.
But that's the beauty of Grace. Its Shower persists long after the stench of Introspective Melancholy is washed out. All that remains: unadulterated Aspiration for that new beginning.
I am now well into the first hours of this New Year, and though it's still dark, the feeling of Grace 2009 has ushered in just seems a little brighter than I've known for awhile...
Happy New Year, Friends.