Years end and what a year this was!
This will be my most political year-end statement because it kicked off my 2017.
In the late ’80’s, a brilliant classmate from China mentioned that the Chinese cultural revolution had been horrible, bad — her parents were educators. Her mother was still living in China. Her father had died during the revolution. I stayed away from asking much. I was afraid I would learn too much about the horror she had lived through.
As the U.S. leans toward further divisions — economic, education, generations — a cultural and/or political revolution seems imminent, so I started the year reading Mao’s Last Revolution. It is a hefty, heady tome and you will not be surprised that at years end, I haven’t finished yet. But let’s not focus on that, no. The authors — Roderick Macfarquhar and Michael Schoenhals — deserve bigly kudos for documentation of a closed communist culture in which conformance to party ideals and pledged loyalty to individuals in the political structure is a shifty business. Deception, intrigue, danger. It’s all there.
Struggle early in the revolution, early in what I’ve read.
And so at year’s end, we continue to struggle a more perfect union and I will continue to struggle Mao’s Last to the finish.
Sub-zero temperatures from my bleacher seat here in the Midwest of the U.S., so the following was a nice confluence of different points of view this year:
After the Alabama election of Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate to sit Sessions seat, Dulce Sloan on the The Daily Show with Trevor Noah said, “Or at the very least cancel winter. You know only white people like snow.”
But! but! This video of black Louisianan Da’Quan Bellard dancing in the snow made me smile, made me scream ‘put on a jacket! put on a coat!’, and made me shake my head.
And most remarkable to me, he sings along to Vanessa Carlton’s ‘A Thousand Miles‘ like Frood did back in the day. Whoa!
And Frood’s in Hawaii for the New Years holiday, and I’m sitting here frozen. SMDH.
My New Year’s Resolution? I’m going to reclaim my time too.
And I hope at the end of 2018 I can report back on what reclaiming my time means in my world.
Focus isn’t a word that figures prominently in my vocabulary. That might be a start.
Maria Popova: In Praise of the Telescopic Perspective: A Reflection on Living Through Turbulent Times, reminds us that we have puny little sorrows when viewed from the universe across space and time. I recommend. It’s a good read.
And she nods at Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot.
Approximately 4550 days after leaving the earth, the Voyager space probe turned it’s cameras to photograph the earth from a distance of about 3.7 billion miles from the Voyager. God bless Carl Sagan! He convinced NASA to take the picture because it puts the earth in a context with its place in the universe. Scientific value? Null. Nada. Zip.
“Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps a no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
Progress on this pale blue dot is small, baby steps. A struggle.
But the progress of this small pale blue dot in our puny little solar system, now we’re talkin’ and I love this reflection from a Vonnegut work of sci-fi:
“Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules — and still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress.”
Here’s a picture of matcha tea making rings around a cup during an afternoon of conversation. It reflects the contemplative nature of afternoon tea and like crop circles so does conversation. Circle. Contemplation. Circle. Conversation. Circle, the noun, and circle, the verb.
Hardly comparable to the Grand Canyon. Yet somehow a puny little afternoon becomes, Grand. Capital ‘G’.
And very 2017 in it’s Pantone Greenery 15-0343.
Note to self, fast now: Drink 2017 Pantone Greenery 15-0343 matcha; wear 2018 Pantone Ultra Violet 18-3838.
On the death of two souls I hold dear during December, with deep love and gratitude, I say:
Thank you, Richard.
Thank you, Joan.
And as needed, comfort dropped in yesterday in the form of an exclusive from Longreads: This is How You Say Goodbye, Lillian Slugocki.
And thank you, dear readers!
Stay safe. Stay warm. And Happy New Year!