2012. I like it. Like the look, like the sound. Clean, alliterative.
Now 2011...no, seriously, 2011 was a stellar year--like all of them...
Not least of all because it was the first full year of my beloved blog. First off, I cannot possibly overemphasize my gratification at the caliber of my readers so could you all, right here, take a huge bow?
I never wanted to do any such thing as invite cheap hits by fomenting useless discussion, vitriolic argument and marketplace Catholicism. Tabloid is tabloid, and I take great pride that if you want to gossip about Fr. Corapi, Fr. Pavone, the inner Vatican, etc. etc. you're not even gonna find that stuff here. I never wanted to hitch my wagon to a cause, or promote my work by purporting to be on the right "side" of anything. I wanted to write about mystery and wonder and paradox and suffering and love and books and ideas and Christ and I have.
And you all have come. You are a major part of my inscape, an impetus, an inspiration, an encouragement, a challenge, and a collective (and sometimes individual) ethical/moral/spiritual guide. I can't tell you how many times during the week I think, Oh I can put that in the blog, or Oh what a beautiful branch, bird, piece of garbage, where's my camera, or Oh I wanted to thank that person for the comment he/she left two days ago...
I learned a lot. I learned that while in one way I am sharing some of my deepest self, I can't "just be myself," because if I were just myself I'd be a whole hell of a lot ruder. Oh the clever, biting retorts I have squelched! Oh, the biting retort I regretted later. Still, I also learned that I can't both write the blog and be everybody's best friend (not that everybody, trust me, wants to be). Nobody would ask their plumber friend, Hey after you work all day would you mind coming over to my house and fixing my toilet, sink and shower while I sit on the side of the tub with a beer and share my soul/tell you my troubles/explain why I think you're wrong and I'm right? Much as I adore sharing souls, stories, troubles, and points-of-view, that's what people are asking when they propose an ONGOING e-mail correspondence. People sometimes say to me: You write just like you talk! Which may or may not be true (or a compliment), but however I write, it is 24/7 mule work. Not that I'd for the world do anything else, but what you see is pretty much all I have.
I feel called to get up on my soapbox every so often and that is a thing, too. I dread and abhor conflict and yet I am somehow compelled to invite it to a certain extent. I have lost many, many nights of sleep worrying about whether I am in error, whether I'm being a jerk, whether I'm being unfair, whether I'm trying to win a useless battle. By the time I've written a post, it turns out, I've pretty much said all I have to say on the subject for the moment. I've discovered when angry or tired I'm liable to completely mis-read the point and tone of a comment and several times have spent an hour or two crafting a reply only to realize afterward I'd engaged in pointless overkill. Restraint of tongue and pen--let the other person have his or her say, within reason, and that is a process of discernment, too.
Again, I feel incredibly fortunate to have either not drawn in the first place, or to have nipped in the bud, the kind of folks who want to argue for the sake of arguing. And I also actually have made a few new friends, which is of course a treasure.
A blog is a strange phenomenon. You get to "know" people you've never met; people whom you have no idea what they look like or how they conduct themselves in "real life." A blog is probably tailor-made for someone like me: a lonely introvert. People get invested in being part of a community--that is part of the beauty of it--and yet we're all like nomads, or pilgrims, and blind-folded pilgrims at that...questing, seeking, stumbling, weighing in, doing the best we can by each other.
Speaking of which, my goal this year is to not only do better by others, but better by myself. I'm gonna turn 60--60, for the love of all that is holy!--this year and it's occurring to me, really, maybe it is time to get a comfortable desk, a decent pair of shoes in which to walk miles every day, an eye exam (I did that once; now I have to do it again?) I lack for nothing but for years I have driven myself really kind of mercilessly, writing, writing, writing, the books, the essays, now the blog, driving cross country and back twice, reading, thinking, going to Mass, corresponding, traveling, speaking, did I say writing?
In one way I live like everyone else and in another...yesterday morning, for instance, someone said to me, "You should try this restaurant down the street," and I thought, Are you kidding? I can't afford to eat out...Or I'll go over to someone's house and they'll have three kinds of tea and I'm like, Oh WOW, look at all the stuff you have! I have a taste for austerity which is not a bad thing and is probably not going to change. But--well, for instance, I once couldn't stand the noise from the neighbors next door while I was trying to work so I got the bright idea to haul in the patio table from the balcony, this round glass patio table with a wrought-iron chair I'd bought at the Salvation Army, and set it up in the corner of the living room and put all my stuff, my papers and pens and stapler and so forth on the piano seat and the printer behind the sofa.
Just for the day was the plan, and I ended up writing there for three or four years.
Just never moved, never tried to make things any more convenient or comfortable. I don't know what that is. I'm not a slob really, I'll keep things fairly neat and organized; I just can't stand to take time out, to go shopping, to make decisions. So I guess that's called impatience, plus I don't like to spend money, but maybe it's time. I'll be very concerned that certain other people are comfortable but undergo weird kinds of discomfort myself. As Jesus said, "Love your neighbor as yourself" and there is something very very deep there. Nobody is gonna love us for us--that's our responsibility. Plus I'm old, practically! So hold the door for me, already, and I am so looking forward to any and all senior discounts.
I also think about dying a lot.
So let's continue to be kind to each other cause you never know when you're celebrating the last Christmas, the last New Year's, the last time you see your mother, or your brother or sister, or your spouse, or your kid, or your friend. I took a last 2011 walk around my neighborhood Tuesday night, thinking of what a rich, full year it had been.
And 2012 will have its own richness.
Or as my friend Terry Carr wrote last night: "Not a bad year, but I'm cutting it loose regardless. Clean house. Make way for the new."
|THE SUN GOES DOWN ON 2011...|
"LORD, I HAVE LOVED THE BEAUTY OF THY HOUSE,
AND THE PLACE WHERE THY GLORY DWELLETH"...