It’s not quite ten hours into 2018. It’s only a degree or two above zero, a degree or two below with the wind chill factor factored in. Birds are flying to and from my bird feeder, squirrels are picking bread crusts and seeds off the frozen ground, and the sun shines down from a brilliant blue sky. There’s just enough snow on the ground and shrubs to make the view out my window an almost perfect vision of a New England winter. Looking out on this downtown Wareham beauty, I wonder what this new year will bring.
I’ve been reading Coates’ We Were Eight Years In Power, a collection of essays written over eight years prefaced with personal notes from the author before each one. In the fifth essay introduction, Coates writes about his joy in seeing his wife, Kenyatta, taking up a new course of study and growing in unexpected ways. Where some would see disruption and the loss of comfortable life patterns and goals, he sees wonder and adventure – a new way to grow together rather than an inevitable (or at least likely) cause of growing apart. What a wonderful way to experience the changes brought to daily life when a beloved leaves behind the old and familiar pursuits.
I don’t think it’s easy, growing together through new directions and stages. It’s easy to become so attached to a specific version of friends and relatives that significant change and growth feels like loss and death rather than gain and new life. There’s something important here for me to learn. With this new year just a few hours old, perhaps I’ve been given my first life lesson of 2018: foster and appreciate the changes and growth of everyone I care about. Love the person, not a particular age or stage. If I can learn how to do this, there’s no telling what delight and adventure I’ll find.
Welcome, New Year. Welcome, New Life Lesson.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, We Were Eight Years In Power (New York: One World Publishing, 2017)