So you know – when you’re reading at bedtime – and you glance at the clock, and it’s one in the morning, and you really have to be up early…and yet – you look at the book – there are a few more pages left. Only a few more pages, and then you’re done and can sleep. (you know that leaving that last little bit unread will make you sleepless anyway, don’t you? that tiniest touch of obsession? of leaving something undone?…)
Winter photoWell, here we are. The smoking embers of December.
The last few pages of the year.
Only a few more pages left before you have to put this one away, and begin a new book. But it isn’t quite done, and you can’t quite leave it. Those last few pages – nothing important might happen, or everything might, either way, it’s a sort of closure, it’s a looking back and a tiny tiny looking forward – but they’re as much pages of reflection and yearning glances over your shoulder (or, in this particular metaphor, a shiver of pages past…) and you lie there, book in hand, remembering, half-frozen in the moment, watching the year that was by the light of one tiny candle, taking its measure.
Was this year a good book for you?
Did you find things you thought lost? Did you laugh? Did you succeed? Were you hungry, angry, afraid? Did you find a new friend, or miss someone you loved? Did you learn something new? Did you forget something that you remember only now, when it’s much too late to do anything about it – and was it important? Did you try? Did you fail? Did you try again? Were you kind? Were you happy? Did you stand up for what you believe in? Did you believe one unbelievable thing (everyone should, every year. You have to grow older but you don’t – ever – have to QUITE grow up.)
Did you touch a rock, a tree, the sand, the sea? Did you pet the dog or the cat? Did you love someone? Did they love you back? Did you hug a child? Did you dream a strange dream? Did you sit up at night worrying about money? Did you go to one good party? Did you tell a friend how much you valued them? Did you write to a favorite author telling them what their story meant to you? Did you hope? Do you have regrets…?
In the words of a line from the TV show ‘Smash’:
The best that you can hope for is to have the right regrets.”
Glance over those last few pages, with hope, with love, with anticipation, with quiet happiness… and I hope at least a handful of the right regrets.
The next book is waiting, crisp and brand new, its pages unturned, right there beside your pillow. You get to start it in only a few days. But this evening – and the next, and the next, all the way until the final day of the year darkens into night – you get the luxury of taking stock. Think back. Don’t let things be forgotten. And if you have a particularly good regret, the kind that will warm the cockles of your heart when you’re old, hold it close.
The clock is about to run out.
May 2019 bring good things to us.
Good things, and maybe another gem of a regret caught in amber – something you did in spite of being ordered not to do it, something you didn’t do in spite of being ordered to do it, bringing a dream alive against all odds even if it leaves wreckage in its wake, making a difficult choice between two equally impossible things. It is these moments, the moments with an edge to them that try the fabric of your life, that make up what is called “living”.
It may seem a strange wish to offer up for you, given that some of these moments might leave scrapes, and cuts, and scars. But here’s my wish. May your new year be wonderful. And interesting. And full of wild things that will make you open your eyes to every morning remembering you are alive, ALIVE… and that you are writing, every second of every minute of every hour of every day – in the pages of the book you will be holding in your hands next year at this time. May you write a good story in 2019.
Happy New Year.