Adventures in Wortcunning: New Year Gratitudes

Adventures in Wortcunning: New Year Gratitudes January 6, 2017

As if turning the page on the calendar could make a difference, my gratitude that 2016 was over felt like a weight was removed. As if the waiting was complete. I looked ahead to 2017 so eagerly I wrote every appointment and goal in the planner long before the turning.

Yet it is with a twinge of nostalgia that I glance at the rear-view mirror to see the year 2016 recede behind me. So much has happened. It was the first full year I spent without my mom to talk to. That was hard, but I’ve heard it gets easier over time. Maybe you just get more used to it.

an illustration of "2016" on a field of black
lumpi /

At the beginning of the year I labeled a large Mason jar with “Happy 2016” placing blank notepaper and a pen inside. On New Year’s Eve, after the year was over, I opened the jar and read each thing as it had been written. This friend came to dinner… Spent time with all the kids on this day… a fantastic seasonal celebration! …I am glad I remembered to write dates down or it would have been a blur.

Through the year, a lot of things worked out better than I could have hoped at the onset. Other things were disappointing, but despite my ‘blindness’ to the overall plan I learned to get over myself (sometimes), becoming in the process well acquainted with any brick walls in my path. It seems I am determined to learn the Alchemist’s Admonition the hard way.

To Will ~ To Dare ~ To Know ~ To Be Silent

This is the admonition, each phrase corresponding to a symbol, a color, and an Alchemical Element. As I approach my second Saturn Return, my super-consciousness is frantic to avoid his sickle, in a way that I couldn’t the first time. In their story, his wife the Goddess Rhea had to get it right when she had her chance. I have a few years to go before Saturn’s second return for me, but the lessons are hitting harder.

  • To Will~ the imagination to envision desired goals, an it harm none.
  • To Dare~ the courage to move in that direction, no matter what.
  • To Know~ the faith that your path is true, if only for you.
  • To Be Silent~ how could it be otherwise?

As I get older, my heart still yearns for loveliness, beauty, and (in a word) perfection. Things are more complicated than they ever seemed in my youth. My standards of acceptability have softened. I can no longer afford to spend the energy getting my shorts in a twist over some passing detail, however major or minor it may appear at the time.

I find myself using the 1,000 year measure to help me prioritize the battles I choose. Will it matter in a thousand years? Of course, this leaves me in more than a few theoretical arguments, discussions over GMOs, women’s rights, the accumulation of knowledge ancient and modern, and how to best impart this to future generations. Some light breakfast conversation, if you will.

It is perhaps the last of these admonitions that I struggle most with, oddly enough in both directions. Learning who you can tell what to is an important lesson. Easier to keep quiet about my little projects until they are well under way and have gained their own momentum. If the agendas conflict, even friends and loved ones can work to cross ones’ purpose, however unknowingly.

It took a long time to understand that no one else will do the things that only I can do. And in the long run, how can anyone read my books if I don’t write them? I am grateful for this lesson. The reminder of Hemmingway who said, “A writer must act like his writing is the most important thing in the world, even when he knows it isn’t.”

In retrospect, it is the things too numerous to mention I am most grateful for. Roof over my head, Love in the home, food on the table, and waking up each morning, even when I didn’t want to – the joys of the day after making even a rotten one before worth surviving. And each time a member of our household came home again was a cause for personal inner-celebration. My heart overwhelmed with gratitude because it wasn’t otherwise breaking.

I used to think that if I became a certain type of person, somehow different, I could avoid troubles or achieve this or that, but the truth is I have always been the same me. Honest to a fault, perfectionist, and all the rest of it – this will not change. My grandmother once proclaimed that I have a “tender conscience” as if this magickal, inner Jiminy Cricket would somehow help in life.  And since the striving is also a part of me, it is my persistent faith that it does help. It must, eventually.

I’ve been reading the original story of Pinocchio. It is not the same as the Disney version at all. Spoiler alert: In the first few pages the naughty puppet smashes the fragile cricket against the wall because Jiminy wouldn’t shut up. It is the ghost of the cricket who thereafter chastises the puppet-wanna-be-boy. This too, sounds strangely familiar.

And while some people have trouble saying ‘I’m sorry’, for me it is ever on the tip of my tongue, offered even to furniture on occasion. The words are so often unworthy of me as I stumble through moments of social awkwardness and confusion. And I am tempted again to beg forgiveness for being disappointingly human once more. In truth, it is vain to think anyone even notices my silly inner-transgressions.

Fact is, the struggle to become ‘real’ has been over since the moment of birth. Perhaps I just forgot. Or maybe I didn’t know what to do after that. Where some seem to understand and embark upon their path and purpose, right away—mine it seemed was in the being. Only now have the roots set deep enough for flowering and the fruit to show. A little.

So this is a note of praise for the lessons and mercies of 2016. A note of encouragement and quiet resolution for the plans of 2017. The tapestry of our combined work is so much bigger than any of us know. I am happy to work on my little bit and trust that it fits in somewhere, like a puzzle piece…just right… here. And wishing a bright and prosperous New Year for all creatures of good will in the Earth.

a banner reading "happy new year 2017"
Andrew-Art /

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