Sunday, December 12, 2010

At A Loss For A Title

I thought I might title this one, Last Words Of The Year, but as many of my readers know, I'm a little sporadic in how often I decide to post.

Today will be a more serious topic than many of my posts, maybe a little philosophical.

Winter has officially arrived. While other areas have been hit a lot harder, we still received the snow, the icy roads, the blowing wind, and the cold temps. The landscape looks more or less dead.

The seasons and our calendar look a lot like life from the right perspective. They begin, they progress, they end...only to start over again. The new year and the new cycle of life don't really coincide with each other, and yet they do in a certain sense.

Spring to us almost represents the new life being created or birthed, with all the plants coming alive, animals coming out of hibernation, people venturing out with greater frequency as a whole. Eventually spring merges into summer. Almost like adolescence and the early adult life. We go out, we explore our world, often in the form of vacations, we have fun. Soon things cool off as autumn sets in. We go back to school and work, and prepare for later when the holidays come around. Autumn fully engulfs us, almost like midlife where we begin to assess how our year (or life) has gone thus far. The holiday season begins in autumn, and we begin to re-connect with our families. Sure, commercialism and shopping and sales are always there, but we stress the important things in life: our families and friends, that which really matters in our lives. Autumn turns to winter, the holidays still in full swing, we continue to cling to the activities that keep us connected to our loved ones. Winter is almost like our senior years, the twilight of our lives. We again take a look at how our lives/years have gone overall.

The winter doesn't end with the calendar year, but continues on. The new year arrives, often including our new plans, or resolutions of what we will do with our new year, and hopefully our new life. We plant the seeds of our ideas into our brains, but with anything, the fruition doesn't immediately show itself, in the dead of winter. It must take time to germinate, along with careful tending, for us to bring everything back to its new life. Then after a few months into the new year, Spring comes along again. We have our second chance at life. We begin the spring cleaning, ridding ourselves of the older and unwanted portions from our old life, to make room for the new things we intend to add and improve our lives. Almost instinctively we crave and try to usher in change to our lives, in order to feel more alive.

Now in real life it doesn't always manifest itself that way. We don't always change but maintain our routines. We don't put forth the new ideas, but merely try to survive in the way we always have. Life passes us by as we just exist. Events, activities and people come and go, but we remain steadfast in our mere stagnant existence. We cling to our ideas of how things should be, occasionally dreaming of what could be, but rarely acting on it. Other times we will stretch ourselves to do things, to say that we are moving forward, even if there is little evidence that it will actually change anything, just for the sake of doing 'something'.

Eventually as we move through our lives, the end of the year/seasons/life comes along. Almost automatically we assess it all again. Did we do this, did we do that, why did we or did we not do the other? For some the answers come easily, knowing they lived a full year or a full life, without regrets of any sort. For others, the questions often beget more questions, along with regrets, wondering where the time went. What could I have done/said differently to have created a better outcome for myself? Things of that nature.

For those who merely existed and survived life, without risk of losing it reminds me of a bible passage. Now some take the bible at its literal word, others as a metaphorical collection on how to live life. To a degree both are right. The passage "Any man who tries to save his life shall surely lose it." Now many Christians will tell you that you must give yourself to the Lord to receive your blessings in Heaven. And yet, it has real world implications at the same time. Those who risk nothing, those who just survive, they will have those questions. they will have realized that they lost the luster of what life and the world has to offer them. It could be a lifestyle, happiness in their jobs, people in their lives, any number of things.

As winter has arrived I find myself wondering what the hell I did with my year. What could I have done differently? Have my relationships with other people grown stronger, weaker. or remained as merely existing relationships over the time? Am I any different now than I was before? Is my family stronger and more loving than a year ago? Or less so? Have I lived a life worth being proud of over this last year, or one that has kept me from true happiness? Will the new year bring better plans, better actions, better words, and ultimately a better life?

Being a guy, we are often stereotyped as having to maintain a macho image. To actually discuss serious topics out loud with someone may leave us challenging our masculinity, and with some guys, our sexual orientation is called into question, usually with a phrase from one of our guy friends that sounds a little like "Dude, why are you acting so gay?"

They say communication is key to building and maintaining relationships. However such statements as the one ending the last paragraph can easily stop us dead in our tracks, and make us shy away from such talk. It's a whole lot easier to sit on our couch in silence staring at the ball game with one hand in a bag of chips the other one clutching either the TV remote or our crotches. We find it hard to expose ourselves, emotionally speaking, for some odd fear of being rejected, or dismissed out of hand by those around us (which sometimes does happen). And yet, if the very people we care about drift away from us, we sit there wondering what happened to our friends or loved ones that we do not see as much of as we did previously. We have had falsehoods built into our lives, and over time we believe them as much as age-old wisdom. We often spread those very same lies to those around us, leading them down the same paths. We lie, and lie, until a big part of our life may be that of a false self. Of course, being human, if we're called on it, we go into psychological self defense, deflecting blame and finding fault with our accusers. Anything to save losing face in our own mind, as well as in the eyes of others, because being wrong is not an option. We will make decisions in life to protect ourselves...and stick by those decisions in the face of everything, good or bad.

And then the next spring and new life comes. The question then is are we still living our old life as we always have? Or maybe we are embarking upon a new one entirely? Or maybe we will take the good part of the old life and add new adaptations to bring those around us along in your new life? Do we clutch onto the ways we've been wronged, while wanting our wrongs to be forgiven? Or will we start anew, forgiving those trespasses against us, while hoping the same courtesy is extended to us? Do we work out our issues with others with whom we may have problems, or keep to ourselves not caring about the people or the circumstances?

Is the new life going to be another set of lies where we insist we're fine no matter what, or will truth be shown the light of day and we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and loved/loving?

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