I really don’t control much in my life. I mean, from certain angles it might appear that I do: I read what I choose, I write what I choose, I think about what I choose (although I’m hesitant to say that I think how I choose…), I choose what I eat and when I sleep and wake up and if I workout or run or climb or cook or tidy up, I do with my free time generally what I like.
On close inspection, however, these things are not really choices but options available to people of my social circumstances and education and income and location.
I guess that’s true in any community. At best, people can choose from the options that are available to them as they are in that place at that time.
But I’m nagged by… It’s irritating that we talk about ourselves as we are in this place at this time like we’re truly choosing how we live. We are not. And I chafe because that lie has led me to desire a certain satisfaction; rather than succumb to the cynicism typical of people who’ve been disabused of their naiveté, I have come to expect, nay, need the ability to negotiate – in truth – how I live.
Them’s fightin’ words…
They are. They are fighting words. Well, at the very least, they are words that lead to action.
Time, time, time / see what’s become of me / while I looked around / for my possibilities…
Every solstice, every equinox, every new and full moon, every sunrise and sunset, I try to calibrate myself. For several years now, I’ve tried to harmonize myself with these phenomena. Of course, I can’t tell by looking when the moon is new or full, nor when the solstices or equinoxes occur exactly, or even – because of clouds on the horizon – when the sun rises and sets, but I have this calendar, see, that helps me be aware…
These things, like watching for when mango trees bloom or the sea turtles come back or the air dries out or thunderstorm blow through in the afternoon, these thing orient me to the real world and to time.
So I’ve decided to mark the beginning and the end of a year using a calendar of my own design and to shape my sense of completion and fresh starts based on that.
I could use other ancient calendars, but I don’t think that that’s appropriate: the historical breaks that make me a person in this place at this time have left me with little to no authentic connection to those tools other than my appreciation of the natural world and the motion of celestial bodies; further, it is important to me that I not lie about the depth and consequences of those breaks – I want to look at them, their results, mourn them, and, with regard for the past and respect for the future, live in the present.
What has endured longer than any of this? I want to tether myself to that.
I look to the sky, to the sea. I’m filled with awe when I look down to the ground on a cross-country flight. How do I see myself, measure my life against the sky and the sea and the land?
It’s a trick of the mind, I suppose.
Nevertheless, these phenomena are the ones I want to use to mark the passing of my days and nights and weeks and years. I’ve decided that my year will start on the new moon that follows the winter solstice. The tide of human activity around me pulls me to winter as the beginning of the year – and having the fall season and part of winter break to prepare for and usher in my new year is convenient. I imagine that that’s how the groundwork for these things was laid back in the day, too, right?