An older person, I’d rather see time stand still for a while rather than wave a year good-bye. Time always seems to speed faster the older one grows. Seeing that this year has been a tragic one with mourning and weeping around the world, most people are happy to bid it good riddance and eager to welcome in a healthy and prosperous 2021. My habit in the waning days of one year is to reflect on how I have lived my life during that dying year and to consider how I may best live the dawning year if I should be granted more time.
Here in my posts and in my daily activities I’ve striven to speak out against the erosion of democracy and mean-spirited, mendacious politics. I am proud that I have not remained silent in the face of evil. I have meditated on what evil is. I still do not have a good definition and cannot offer one here. The best I can do is to describe it as a failure to see that humanity is one and to acknowledge that truth in word and deed. Lies, insults, selfishness, greed, arrogance, viciousness, and cruelty are manifestations of that failure. Talk of politics should not be avoided. Everything is politics, because it determines how we live, if our children are well-educated, if our families thrive, and what public services are available to make our communities safer and improve our overall well-being.
If anything, bad politics has served to make the body politic less apathetic and more aware of the importance of civic involvement and voting, which absolutely does make a difference. Bad examples can serve a good purpose. I have been active in the political process. In 2021 I cede the driver’s seat to the younger generation. The Baby Boomers had their chance to make a difference. While continuing to stay informed and to comment as I see fit, I am happy to take a backseat.
In 2020 I completed two books: Grant Me a Cloud, my collected poems 2017-2020 and Stranger in My Own Land, a verse-novel based on the life of Margaret Fuller, nineteenth-century American writer and intellectual. I begin the new year without a writing project in mind. The likelihood that I will not write another book does not bother me. I may have emptied the writing well. Nonetheless, I have a body of work that represents what I have thought and felt, what I have imagined and invented over four decades. The results satisfy me. Unless the irresistible force overtakes me to write a book that must be written, I plan to empty my mind by writing posts for How Public Like a Frog.
At year’s end, many minds turn to thoughts of New Year’s resolutions. Numerous articles appear to argue for or against making resolutions. Ambitious lists of resolutions are published both humorous and edifying. Many are made and soon broken. Others are kept through sheer persistence. I myself believe in resolutions. To resolve is to make a firm decision, to decide to amend your life in some way. What could be wrong about that? We try and we fail; then we pick ourselves up and try again. We need a plan, a road map for the future, and resolutions give us a direction to follow.
So what are my resolutions for 2021? I resolve not to accomplish anything. I will not lose weight. I will not write the Great American Novel. I will not redecorate the house. I will not increase my bank account. I will not bake ten cheesecakes. I will not be jaded, cynical, and pessimistic.
What about positives? I will welcome each morning as a gift from heaven. I will walk gentle on this earth. I will treat each day as my last. I will try, and often fail, to love my neighbor as myself.