Sunday, January 2, 2011

Not looking back or forward, just around

In the spirit of curbing my procrastination, I'm doing my New Year's Eve Looking Backward post on January 2. I've never believed much in resolutions, but I've come to the point in my life where I'm thinking about this point in my life.

Something new has happened lately; I've been thinking about my mortality. I don't mean than in a lugubrious way; actually, I feel pretty good about it. But just recently I haven't felt as if I'm an ageless kid in a mysteriously graying, wrinkling shell; I feel like I'm the age I am. Does that mean I'm going to start acting "mature"? God, no.

Paradoxically, hanging around all my running friends makes me feel older while the activity keeps me younger. But both the Flyers and the hashers are welcoming and inclusive and I feel right at home. The same is true with my work friends, who are almost all 25 to 35 years younger, though sometimes I don't get out with them because they like going to red-in-tooth-and-claw meat restaurants and staying out late-- till the subways run again at 6 a.m. late-- at clubs.

But I've gone on too long about age, and now I'm older yet than when I started. This entry really isn't about age; it's about life, or my life at least.

Am I better today than I was a year ago? A decade ago? Financially, not really. I've got a little apartment with a big cat in a strange, strange land. I don't know when I'll ever move back home, or where that is.

But I honestly think I've attained some wisdom and some perspective. It took a while for me to realize that the cosmos doesn't revolve around the United States, or Ithaca, or me. It amazes me that I never wanted to live in a town bigger than 20 thousand and I'm comfortable in a town of 20 million.

Today it was about 15 degrees Fahrenheit and halfway down into the subway was a man sitting on the landing, his head down, with his cap upside-down in front of his crossed legs. I know people think that beggars are bums, or faking it, but nobody sits there on a day like today by choice. I put money in his cap, but it doesn't make me feel better.

I think about people like him. I think about my cat Tiki, spending his second horrible winter on the streets of Daegu (if he's still alive). I think about the people I've hurt, but not the people who've hurt me. I know this all may sound sanctimonious, but it's true.

I've been a vegetarian for 19 years and talked the good talk, but I guess it's only recently that I've really internalized how compassion is all we have.

I wish us all a hopeful and healing 2011.

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