There are years that ask questions and years that answer. – Zora Neale Hurston
It’s 6:30 p.m. on a Wednesday evening. I’m sitting on my couch, watching my cats lob curled-paw punches at each other across the living room. Dinner is on the coffee table, steaming. It’s a big bowl of cheese, broccoli, sweet rice flour, and sunflower seeds gussied up into what most folks might consider a “casserole.” Don’t get me wrong; it will taste good – this casserole. Whenever I decide to eat it, that is.
Right now I’m too engrossed in my own thoughts to think about food, though I’m certain at some point the wafting smell of it will pique my olfactory interests. I’ll start to do the whole Pavlovian song-and-dance, subconsciously salivating while lost in the turbulent flow of my own inner thoughts.
Tomorrow is the last day of 2015. I’m trying, I suppose, to psyche myself into bidding the year goodbye in hopes that I’ll awake on January 1st like some old desk top computer with a brand new hard drive – I’ll spring back to life blank and happy, full of energy, with nary a connection to memories of things past.
This is a dumb notion to entertain. And it’s naive. I know that.
Really, I don’t want my memories from this year to be altogether erased, though muted wouldn’t hurt.
They’ll dull in time though.
I know that too.
It was a good year for me – 2015. I shouldn’t write as though I’m conjuring the ghost of Thomas Hardy’s narrative style when, in reality, I’m not altogether unhappy. I did the things I set out to do: I published more; I involved myself in the local lit scene, which is, as it turns out, a safe haven for me when I start to feel like this (note to self: participate even more in 2016); I finally let go of some deep-rooted feelings of inadequacy and envy I’ve long harbored toward other writers – and goddamn did that feel amazing. So I did a lot. “Go me,” I suppose.
Still, this sweeping inner thought vortex keeps spitting out the same notion over and over and over at me. Something’s missing, it says. Something’s not here.
My initial reaction to this theme reprisal is to think, “A person. A person is missing.” And while there’s some truth to this hair-trigger conclusion, the missing person is not who I automatically assume it to be (someone faceless I haven’t even met yet – i.e. a girlfriend).
Because I know this person is me. I’m missing.
I think part of the reason why I’ve metaphorically disappeared has to do with the fact that I keep entertaining this vortex. It’s full of deep concepts and intriguing concerns and brights ideas, sure. But, just as much, it’s a tornado made of junk. And when I pay it too much mind, some of that junk comes out of me – in the form of words, of proclamations, of unresearched theories about the people and things around me. And I share them because, well, that’s what I do: I’m a writer. I share. A lot.
But I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to write, of course. But I don’t want to share like every rustling notion in my brain is owed some kind of due attention. It’s frenzying and haphazard. And it’s turned me into someone self-absorbed, pushing my own theories and philosophies onto others without even asking first.
Now, I can see the irony of this situation – striving to think less of myself by thinking about myself thinking less about myself. That is its own, separate kind of vortex.
What I really want to do in 2016 is work toward being someone who’s less concerned about her own tragedies (oftentimes self-made) and more attuned to the lives of others – to their tragedies and triumphs. Because that’s where I found most of my happiness this past year – with others. Learning about them. Learning from them. Learning with them.
And I think, in doing this, I’ll start to reappear again.