111. Happy OLD Year


Year End is a hard thing to get motivated for:  closing out your books, adding up expenses, entering revenue, figuring profit, mileage, making sure you paid your taxes, etc. I like being accountable but hate the accounting. Fortunately I have Bill the tax guy who is squeaky clean; he flosses between digits and knows the latest tax laws. God bless Bill. I’d just as soon sneak away quietly from the numbers in a pile on a messy desk, but the IRS takes a dim view of such sloppiness. So, I joylessly plod onward sorting out the figures of 2012.  Besides, not paying your taxes is like not changing your HVAC filters: in a word, unhealthy. In another word, expensiver. I was going to go with “more expensive” but that would be two words. Yes, Happy Old Year to you, bloglings.

It was a good year in my life. I figure that I’d better claim the good when it’s here since Fortune has a way of turning upside down in a heartbeat. Business has been strong and profitable. The blog continues billowing up like some warm yeasty batter that needs a beat down. Similarly the Coffee Nation continues into its fourth year. (A beat down is coming, fellas.)  I got a new computer and a new phone that I can’t figure out. Took that mission trip to Honduras in February. Saw my old friend Mark in Nashville.  Daughter  Gracie in Altlanta for Father’s Day. Went to the beach in Delaware for a few days. Tucson for a week in August. New York City for a weekend…I know, it’s starting to sound like those Christmas letters reviewing the year. But this is different because Christmas is over. If you are enjoying the travel and the standing still of your life, then things are pretty copacetic. I’ll take it, though it sounds like an off brand mouthwash. Not too bad, better than bad breath, I guess.

I’ve been accused of being tangential, and I plead guilty. I get bored going in predictable straight logical lines. That’s not fun, and I suppose fun is important to me. Mystery too. Why be obvious? Where would Bob Dylan be if he just said whatever he said prosaically? Nowhere. No, he’d be on the school board of Hibbing, MN where he started. I’m no Bob Dylan. Not even Billy Bob Dull One. But I’m not at a school board meeting in Minnesota  either. One more thing to be thankful for.

I set a record for Christmas shopping this year. I bought about a dozen presents for my wife and two daughters in 29 minutes. Magically 10 of the 12 items did not have to be returned. It was my Christmas miracle. Amazing when you consider that I bought my wife a pink felt hat in 1975 or so, before we were married. It was dashing and completely inappropriate, much like the yellow cowboy shirt I bought her for another Christmas. She knew what she was getting into years before we married. At least my daughters got some use out of the infamous pink hat in endless hours of dress up in the basement.

Another year gone and what have you done? Well, it’s not so much about doing anymore as it is about being. Being content for starters. I am way more content now than I have ever been. Why? Maybe because I’m on the back side of the mountain range of life, descending over time instead of always climbing. You burn a lot more energy climbing than walking down a mountain. And it seems that life comes to me these days; I don’t have to pursue it so much. My mortgage is paid off finally, along with the cars and college loans for my kids. Not that money makes you happy, but being freed from the pursuit of paying off bills does bring peace. Life is finite now. It has always been finite, it’s just that now I can count the likely years left in my life and even budget my resources for twenty or so years. There is  no sadness when I contemplate my end. At least not yet. I look at twenty years and wonder how I’ll meet their challenges. The granddaughter I’m expecting in a month will be twenty when I am at the back door of my life. Hopefully I will have invested much treasure into her life by then.

Yeah, it’s not about doing. So many doers never learn this simple lesson. They believe that the more you do, the better you are. The more you do, the more you are worth. That is a tragic myth to follow throughout one’s life. When they get to the end of their usefulness and their doing, they have to face the consequences of the myth and conclude that they have no more worth. Often the doing life is rooted in avoidance of intense feelings, so when the coping strategy of numb doing is gone, the intense feelings flood back like a tsunami wave that broke decades back but only now reaches the shoreline of consciousness. God help them.

Going out tonight with my lovely bride to celebrate being together. I don’t know what the year ahead holds for us, but I am truly blessed by what this past year unveiled. May your Old year be just as memorable and filled with joys, and may you be exquisitely sensitive to the moments you live in this New Year. After all, the now is all you have.

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