31 December, 2008

The last day of 2008

Did anyone have a good year in 2008?

I am not sure. I really don't know. I have not heard anyone say "2008 was fantastic!", but how often do you hear people proclaim such things. Usually we call out years in their special 365.25 day buckets when we want to talk about how bad that interval was. I have heard people who are longing for the last days of this year to be bled away, giving birth to 2009 and the unknown.

2008 did suck for me. But 2008 was also spectacular as well.

In the span of one week, my mom died, and I joined the band. Those things happened in May of 2008. It feels almost vulgar to juxtapose those two things, because it may inadvertently convey some false notion of valuation. But the fact is, those were both huge events that occurred in my life, simultaneously. Both of these events were surrounded by anxiety and the expenditure of significant amounts of emotional and intellectual energy. And there's no way to balance those assets. You cannot take an Excel spreadsheet and put your music accomplishments in one column, and dead loved ones in another, and come up with some sort of macro that tells you whether you have a net positive for the year. It just doesn't work that way. And you cannot, or maybe I should say, you need not try to average emotions. Happy and sad can exist simultaneously. I am not sure if their existence occurs in parallel, like programs on two different TV stations, where you can tune in to either at any time, but never watch both simultaneously, or whether you add them like ingredients like food coloring, where blue happiness and red sadness combine to make purple wistfulness. I guess emotions aren't additive in any conventional way.

I have had both happy and sad in love as well. For so many reasons, and in so many ways. And I don't know how to add those either. It's interesting. I do not regret any of the sad that I have felt in these times. I only regret the sad I have caused, or perceive myself to have shaped. And I do not profess myself to be some magical powerful hand of a god, capable of inflicting harm or pain. But sometimes in just being ourselves -- whether it be that we are being "true" to ourselves, or whether it be that we are trying to hold up to some ideal of which we are ultimately incapable -- our choices and actions cause harm and pain and sorrow. And of that, I have regret.

I try to recognize the good, and there is certainly much. I learned many things about my capacities for many things. I realize that is so obtuse and vague, so as to serve as useless. But what I am trying to say is that I learned that I am capable of much more than I thought I was in this year. In many ways.

This year was painful. And we are now officially into the last day. But what is a year other than an arbitrarily bounded collection of days?

I am certain that when 2008 started, I had professed a desire that this year should bring for me more stability, and clarity. I could probably locate the blog where I wrote that, if I were to look. But that stability and clarity did not come in 2008. And it was not there in 2007. And it was not there in 2006. It has been 3 years of flux. There have been many great things, no doubt. Accomplishments, transitions, love, adventure, travel. I have had these things in those years. But I have also had a lot of pain. Is that just unavoidable? I realize that my life is simple compared to many people, and this is not a complaint. But must every year be traumatic?

I hesitate to ask 2009 to bring me peace, or stability, or clarity. Because I realize that a year brings nothing. The year is a collection of arbitrarily bounded days. And it ends because the calendar says it ends. There are other calendars for which the year continues to some other arbitrary end point. The peace, stability and clarity derive from inside me. And they must be sought and chosen every single moment. Not daily. Not monthly. Not yearly. And not beholden to external circumstances.

On the last day of 2008, I wish you all peace, stability, and clarity. By your own choosing.


  1. 2008 will be remembered as the year we elected Barack Obama, for me. I hope that the next collection of 365 arbitrarily bounded days contains a greater ratio of happy ones than sad ones, for you and for all. :) Thanks for blogging.

  2. In an admission I'll make *only* here in this comment section, 2008 was one of my best years on record. It was, however, nearly a total loss for most of those nearest and dearest to my heart, which has tempered my enjoyment of the year as a whole.

    I've found myself feeling guilty for my successes and contented existence on several occasions. I've had to downplay excitement, joy and discussions of the things that make me warm and fuzzy because I don't know how to balance sympathy for someone else's plight when I'm feeling so good about where I am.

    I've also found myself feeling resentment towards my loved ones for my own inhibitions when it comes to admitting that I'm as happy as I am, though it's not and has never been their fault. They haven't asked me to be down in the dumps, financially and emotionally and physically, and join them in their lows.

    Maybe that's something I'll need to work on next year, though I have not even a slight idea of where to begin.

    Oh, and I'll second the sentiment of the first poster, thanks for blogging!

  3. edited the blog slightly, to recalibrate for sobriety.