Occasionally I turn back the pages in my journal and think about what I have written the year before. A link to the past. A prod to the memory. Last year my first column in January was entitled: 2019: “Let it go …”
Here we are. Plunged into the beginning of a new decade. An election year that promises to be alive with drama, any way you slice it.
The sense one has is not of an ending, rather of a beginning. The possibility of, (perhaps), “starting fresh.”
Each year I order a black leather Letts Diary from London. When I lift it from the box and pull it open for the first time the gold-edged pages stick together. It has that feel and smell of a new book, a combination of the paper, the ink and the soft leather.
Calmly, with beautiful penmanship, I note the first few entries. Eventually, by year’s end, there are tea stains on several of the pages, notes in pencil that are illegible and a binding that is pulling apart. Diaries must absorb the events of the year. It isn’t always easy.
I read the words a few times, as they seem prescient about where we are now.
The pages in my 2020 Letts diary are worn and soiled with the usual stains.
Tucked into the binding, here and there, are headlines about the pandemic and the election. A photograph that appeared above the fold on the front page of the New York Times of the redwoods, giant sequoias and Joshua trees that perished in the wildfires that engulfed California. There are colored graphs depicting the spike of COVID-19 beginning in March. Daily walks are noted and the various zoom meetings and classes. Many of us were isolated for months and choreographed a new rhythm and pattern for our lives.
Bare branches with tight green buds are harbingers of spring: the season of renewal. I discovered few tall branches at a flower market last week, carried them home and have watched as they have bloomed into exquisite pink blossoms. They remind me of being in Japan.
In my 2019 column the words “Let it go. Just let it go” were in quotes. Along with the joy and happiness during the year, there had been moments of profound sadness and loss. Just before the last day of the year I was having dinner at a Tibetan restaurant in Queens with a dear friend. As we were leaving, she thrust a bouquet of flowers into my arms and said: “Just let it go.”
This is a year when we can’t “Just let it go.” We need to finally identify solutions for the myriad of problems dividing our country. This is a time when we must come together in a sense of healing and understanding. It isn’t going to be easy.
Like the delicate blooms on a branch, may you find the peace and beauty that we often encounter unexpectedly. Consider those feelings found objects. Keep them on your shelf. Let’s make 2021: A year of renewal.
You can follow Elizabeth on Instagram at elizh24 or send her a note at: firstname.lastname@example.org She is an author and journalist. Her books include: Ned O’Gorman: A Glance Back, a book she edited (Easton Studio Press, 2015), A Day with Bonefish Joe (David R. Godine, 2015), Queen Anne’s Lace and Wild Blackberry Pie, (Thornwillow Press, 2011).