If the Mayans were right, the world is scheduled to end later this week, on Friday, 21/12/12, to be exact. (Can’t we at least have one last weekend??) Regardless of whether the world ends, the year soon will. Perhaps it is time to take stock. I am going back to Phoenix for the holidays, and technically I will be landing in Phoenix just as doomsday begins across the pond. For me, being in transit at such a time is most befitting! And, landing in a city whose namesake is the mythical firebird, consumed by flames and then arising from the ashes, even more so.
When this year began, I was a respected, well-paid lawyer with job security, excellent benefits, and a pension that would only improve the longer I worked. I was a home owner, with a minimal mortgage kept only for tax purposes. Many would say – and did say -- that I had it made; I should just relax, enjoy the fruits of my labor, and be grateful for an enviable position in a very bad economy. Instead, I applied to UU, retired, sold my house, condensed my life to an assortment of boxes, stashed, along with my car, at my mother’s house, and moved to the Netherlands, where I was born, to begin anew as a student. Leaving home and coming home – all in one fell swoop. Beginning a whole new chapter: a tale of two cities, a tale of Christmas past, present and future. Which is my past, and which my future? I don’t really know.
What I do know, cliché as it may sound, is that it is the journey and not the destination that counts. Terrifying (and exhilarating) endings, exhilarating (and terrifying) beginnings, embracing and letting go, destruction followed by renewal, winter to spring, old year to new, forever going back to the future. Every place you have lived, every challenge you have undertaken, every person you have loved, leave their mark on your soul. For good or for ill, you take them with you wherever you go. But you never know what lies around the next corner. Sometimes the past is just the past; a nice place to visit but you really can’t live there anymore. And sometimes the past revisited will surprise you by transforming into the future. You just have to wait and see, remain open to all possibilities, and savor the moments that go by on the way to… who knows? Just have faith that you will know when you have arrived, and will also know enough to act on it; choosing a future that embraces the past with no regrets, only hope.
My two beautiful cites: Phoenix, built on the ashes of the ancient Hohokam, again claiming a fertile land from the harsh Arizona desert with irrigation canals. And Utrecht, with its medieval canals and nearby new polder land, in a country whose existence is dependent on the constant effort of reclaiming land from all that water. In transit between the two, it may very well be the end of the world as we know it… and I feel fine!
Happy holidays to all, see you next year!