New Year’s Day this new year
This year I celebrated New Year’s Day on the day after Thanksgiving on the shores of the Ohio River. That is what I have been doing for the last several years now. If you are a little confused, I will be happy to explain.
It not about the calendar. I fully realize the appointed NYD is January 1st. That day is the designated day to begin a commitment to a resolution or two or three that will change us all for the better. However, as most of us have experienced, after a week or two, they gone. Why is that? If you will allow, I think I understand a little about why that happens.
In this unfathomable existence here on earth, in the constantly changing time period we take on our physical forms, there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” solution. We are all very different. Take a look around. Am I right? In fact, there is no other way it can be. It is the fact that we are all different entities (as safe a word as I can find to use, which is a discouraging enough practice, reflecting these times) that ultimately unites us.
Celebrate the way that works for you
But, in the case of New Year’s Day, this is not good for advertisers, alcohol sales, and the people who make the pointy party hats. Since we are all unique and wonderful as we set upon our life’s journey, our point of true reflection, recharging and rejuvenation must all be unique. Think of someone you don’t know very well giving you a gift of a new outfit that you will be obliged to wear. It doesn’t fit, the colors look bad on you but it’s from your boss or in-law, so you feel like you have to wear it from time to time, mostly for their sake. An extreme example would be having to wear a life-sized pink bunny suit like Raphie in a Christmas story. It just doesn’t’ work for you.
Let’s share the customary New Year’s Fun as we should. But to start on a path of real change that has a way better chance of taking hold, I think it works better and makes more sense to find your own starting point.
The drift log of attachments
My realization journey to the Ohio began seven years ago as purely a get away from a recent family tragedy. I found the immense and indifferent flow of the Ohio River soothing to my core, to my mind, heart and soul. I had to get back. That much I knew.
I have returned with some or all of my adult children each and every year. Over the years the mid-summer trip has, for me, evolved into as much a spiritual pilgrimage as a summer holiday. It’s a holiday week. I spend it having fun but also taking spiritual stock of myself during the past year and even years. This year’s trip, however, was moved to Thanksgiving weekend.
This year long intention has come to be manifested by the “drift log” rite or practice I now perform annually on the shores of the Ohio. The river never fails to give me a sturdy, nearly two-foot-long drift log to take back home with me. The riverbank is full of them. Once back home it I put on my front porch in summer, on the buffet in the winter. Both places easily in view and accessible. They need to be because as the year proceeds, I take physical reminders of the year and attach them to the drift log: receipts, lists, appointment reminder cards, masks, wrist bands, personal notes. The good, bad, happy and sad get stapled or glued onto the drift log. By vacation time each year, the drift log is full, carrying the attachments of the year with it.
New Year’s Eve in the morning on the river
Then, on one of the days of the weekend when the river seems receptive, I head to the shore with this year’s drift log. I’ll call this New Year’s Eve. It is always very early in the morning when the river is calm like glass, and I can feel the power and energy of the water. I know it is time for the toss. It is like the ball dropping on Times Square, less crowded, less noisy but with a hell of lot more significance, intention and energy. I begin my countdown and take some breathes as I review the array of glued and stapled reminders of the year.
When I’m ready, I throw it as far as I can throw it! I release this year’s drift log. It takes its time coming down upon the indifferent water. It splashes, settles for a second or two and begins its trip to New Orleans or somewhere I will never discover.
I am lightened, renewed, freed of attachments to events from the previous year and years. I can go back to the laptop and work for the sake of working, write for the sake of writing. My New Year’s Eve celebration. A bit odd, maybe. A bit confusing for people who send out holiday cards, sure. My drift log tradition or rite is not the midnight ball drop on Time’s Square, but considerably less random a lot more effective starting point to begin intentions for the following year. I have space to take them on now. I have already started to prioritize them.
Before I leave the shores of the Ohio to begin my new year, I chose a new drift log. It’s hard to tell from the photo but this year’s is a bit smaller. I’m hoping that means that fewer attachments will find me in 2002. Happy New Year!