The last embers of a broken fire glow on a zero degree, arctic winter. It’s new year’s day eve and I’m with my family on our annual escapade to our family chalet – a small cabin perched atop Middle Mountain, NH, bequeathed by Papa Fantini to us, his spoiled offspring.
Even at midnight, the outline of the White Mountain vista is visible by starlight. You could even make out Taurus and Scorpio in the night sky. Away from the city light, the expanse of the heavens seemed accessible.
Usually I’m the last to bed. I remember as a kid staying up past midnight was kind of like a form of protest; now I wish I could fall asleep by 9. Tonight, my mind is racing. New Year’s resolutions are usually bunk for me, but this year I’m feeling especially sentimental about the future.
Maybe because I’m an old man.. at 24 (I feel old). The last two and a half years of post-graduation haven’t been what I anticipated or planned. God’s been an anchor, nonetheless. Yet the constant itch to be more, to do more, and to accomplish what I set out into my 20s is like a constant alarm in my headspace.
Between the bright full moon, constellations, and embers my eyes needed no adjustment to navigate the lightless room. I pour a glass of bourbon, and sit on the torn black seat by the fireplace (a favorite spot since I was a kid, its swivel base providing purview to sunsets with just a turn).
“Who you will become must begin with who you are today” a wise man once told me. The words echo through my head. Was I on the right path? Or, have I wandered too long? I didn’t like what I was becoming.
At the outset of every year, I (foolishly) try to imagine everything that might unfold. In my mind, each year is like a wheel, spiraling upward to the next. I guess it’s more similar to the cyclical Jewish perspective of time than the linear, western one (which I find way too hollow). Every year an echo of the last and a shadow of the future; a constantly evolving pattern with one common thread. What’s worse, I’m so anal-retentive that each month is color-coded in my mind..
And every Spotify playlist on my phone is seasonal. One of the songs on my January playlist kept repeating in my head throughout that month, reflecting my feelings of hope mixed with apathy:
I know a place out beyond these pines
Where the sky falls down with the cumulus cries
A winter song for a January type
I could tame my heart
I could blind my eyes
The river is an organ
And the meadow is a church
For a strange inclination
That fortune is a curse
I’m a cryptic writer
I’m an ignorant fool
I’m a poor excuse for poetry
Trying to play it cool
I’m just trying to play it cool
In that moment by the fire, I found myself flirting with fatalism like I often do. So, I prayed. Prayers of anxiety. I had learned a lot in the last two years, but I wanted 2018 to be different.
Cup empty, embers dimming, and moon gazing through the chalet windows – I stood and felt the peace of God. He had a plan for this and every year, regardless if I could see it.