Letter From Away
Published in

Letter From Away

Begin again

Letter from Away — January 6, 2022

Sunset, at the end of another year. The new one brings no guarantees.

It’s 1:13 a.m. on the first morning of the year and I’m not ready to go to sleep yet. I’ve been with friends tonight, people who like to laugh and don’t mind it being at their own expense, if that’s the way the cards fall.

We ate a pot luck supper and some really good leftover Christmas cookies, and revisited a bunch of decades together. Between us, we’d heard and sometimes even seen all of the good bands.

In 1977 James Taylor wrote that, “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.” I know it is not always easy to just enjoy the life we’ve got. I’ve been lucky. I got to hear the good bands and rally for just causes and dance disco before it was retro. Maybe my generation trashed things more than we left them alone; we are certainly not free of culpability for the over-consumption and social disparity that has led to today, but we are not alone in that.

On faceboss, a friend posted that, since fighting against our common reality hasn’t worked all that well these past couple of years, this is a good time to consider accepting what is. As resolutions go, that is pretty simple, but harder than it looks on the surface. We are creatures who love to tinker and call it improvement, who embrace change and call it progress.

Change is inevitable, of course. Each breath we take lights fires, shifts winds, moves mountains. But, intentionality does not always offer control, and control rarely assures a desired outcome.

Taylor also wrote that fear and love often hold hands along life’s paths. Certainly, greater love means greater risk. In the face of that, he said, “ … since we’re only here for a while / Might as well show some style.”

Some of us think we can defeat the short-term nature of our existence, and as a species we devote much time and treasure to our efforts to increase our lifespan from the three-score and ten offered by the Bible. But time is only as valuable as the way we spend it and a long life is no guarantee of fulfillment.

This ride we are on can be as lovely as Taylor claimed in his song. Most often, the loveliness appears in momentary glimpses, Kodak moments that no film or pixel can truly hold. The glow of mosses in a winter forest, the rippled reflection of a gray sky over an endless ocean, the call of an unseen bird.

For me the beauty of life is outside of human dominion, more likely to survive in spite of us than because of us.

Enjoying the passage of time is, as Taylor pointed out, often a matter of recognizing that time itself is a perspective, a way of feeling our movement through space. The answer to Einstein’s conundrum, he said, was simply to smile and enjoy the ride.

For some of us, that level of acceptance is impeded by circumstance beyond our control — financial, cultural, or physical. And yet, I have known those in poverty who are at peace, and marginalized individuals who struggle in society and still feel and express joy, and the aged, ill, and infirm who smile and breathe and are content with living as it comes to them.

We don’t always have the means to make our circumstances better, but we can recognize our common existence, offer others what opportunity we can share, and begin each day, each moment as a new piece of life.

“Welcome to the human race.”

Shlomit Auciello is a writer, photographer, and human ecologist who has lived in Midcoast Maine since 1988. Letter From Away has appeared online and in print, on and off since 1992, and is published here on a weekly basis.

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Shlomit Auciello

Shlomit Auciello

Shlomit Auciello is a writer, photographer, and human ecologist who lives in Midcoast Maine. Letter From Away has appeared online and in print since 1992.