... is off to quite a start.
For the moment, I'm going to ignore the fact that I'm writing this on a borrowed laptop -- mine suffered a catastrophic loss of power yesterday that will only be remedied with a new adapter -- and focus only on the previous week. It was a decent one.
Given the mess that was 2010, I consider that fantastic news.
I had my concerns as the last moments of the year approached. Please, I said to myself, snuggled into a booth at a wine bar, where my family had opted for a late dinner after the concert we'd attended at Lincoln Center. Please let 2011 be better. Really, it wouldn't take much, all things considered.
I don't have a faith I can fall back on, having grown up with a mix of Buddhism, Catholicism, and atheism coloring various years in my spiritual development (none of the aforementioned schools of belief actually stuck). But the wish I couldn't give voice to, as the final seconds of December fell away, might very well have been a form of prayer. To whom, I don't know. Of late, especially as I've written more and more about family history for my thesis and studied the beliefs that shaped it over a generation or two, I've felt the ghostly presence of my ancestors in the aftermath of their influence. Whether they handed them down whole or in parts, their values -- cultural, philosophical -- had their role in making my parents who they are. So as I've attempted to bring my parents to life on the page, I've found myself consulting, in some ways, with the dead, trying to understand and illustrate my parents' ways of being as they stem from their families of origin.
My grandparents believed that their ancestors watched over them and, in some ways, protected them. In the absence of any other spiritual influences in more recent months, I'd say my own meditations on my ancestors have brought them -- or at least the idea of them -- close enough for me to feel their metaphoric gaze.
So perhaps, my wish for a year better than the preceding one was meant for them to hear. Certainly no one else would have been able to as the New Year neared -- everyone, including my family, was playing a horn or other noisemaker handed out by the maitre d', laughing, cheering, raising flutes of champagne. A perfect chaos of anticipation.
I felt some kind of weight lift as the chef and his staff appeared at last, parading down the main aisle of the restaurant while banging pots and pans to signal the official arrival of January. And that lightness has stayed with me, despite travel exhaustion (mostly jet lag), the unceremonious return to post-vacation life (mostly bills and errands and household chores), and lingering uncertainties about how this year will go.
It's a good sign.
Here's hoping the fact that my adapter fried itself at 4:44 (an extremely unlucky number in Chinese superstition because the word for four is homonymous with the word for death) means absolutely NOTHING.
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